Skip to content

A Research Roadmap Toward Improved Measures Of Disability

Scott D. Landes, Bonnielin K. Swenor, Melissa A. Clark, Kelsey S. Goddard, Jean P. Hall, Amanda Hermans, Catherine Ipsen, Michael Karpman, Noelle K. Kurth, Andrew Myers, Susan J. Popkin, Maggie R. Salinger, Nastassia Vaitsiakovich

Health Affairs, July 2024

Scott Landes

Scott Landes

Nearly 27 percent of US adults have a disability, with evidence that rates of disability have been increasing over time, especially in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some people, disability is congenital; for others, disability is acquired at some point between childhood and older age. Some disabled people weave their disability into their identity; others do not. And although many disabled people experience functional limitations, this is not the case for all disabled people. Despite these variations, it is critical to measure disability in a robust way. And yet, current approaches to measuring disability do not sufficiently capture the complexity of disabled populations.

This failure can have serious consequences. Inaccurate or insufficient measures can have a profound impact on the evaluation and allocation of disability-related programming and resources. It is in this context that we believe public officials, researchers, and advocates must urgently work together to improve disability measures.