About this issue

This issue of Spotlight on Disability focuses on the intersection of health and disability

By Anju Khubchandani, MA

Welcome to this issue of Spotlight on Disability which focuses on the intersection of health and disability. The preponderance of health disparities and lower social determinants of health among people with disabilities underlies the importance of highlighting these issues and prioritizing efforts related to this underserved population.

Although it has been 20 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities continue to experience high levels of health disparities and a continual lack of access to appropriate medical care. One way to address disparities experienced by those with disabilities involves improving health care providers’ knowledge and ability to provide disabilitysensitive and competent care. Health professionals must be made aware that individuals with physical disabilities, for example, frequently experience physical and psychological secondary conditions such as pain, fatigue, obesity, decreased mobility, social isolation, and depression which often impose a substantial burden on the individual and frequently has negative social and economic consequences. Psychologists in particular must become aware of these health disparities and the comorbidities and recognize the need to develop, modify and/or adapt programs, services, or policies so that people with disabilities are given full consideration. It is also important to examine where change can occur in educating our future mental health providers.

During this past year, the APA, the Disability Issues Office, and APA’s Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology (CDIP) have pursued activities aimed at increasing the awareness and knowledge base of these issues among psychologists. In October, APA hosted the “Inequity to Equity: Promoting Health and Wellness of Women with Disabilities” conference in Washington, DC. Over the two-day conference, current topics in health care access and policy, health promotion, and disparities in health were discussed in breakout sessions. The data and findings presented during the conference elucidated the fact that substantial disparities in health behaviors and overall health status persists between persons with and without disabilities.

Inside these pages, you will learn more about the work of our office and the activities of CDIP that have been created to raise awareness of these issues. In his article on telehealth, CDIP member Dr. Lawrence Pick introduces the committee’s work in this area and describes continuing advances in technology that result in an increased need for improved health care delivery models for those with disabilities. Another CDIP member, Dr. Erin Andrews, provides an enlightening narrative on the stereotypes she overcame when working with her prenatal health care team. Stefanie Reeves, one of APA’s Government Relations officers, gives an update on the legislative side of disability advocacy. She also provides ways of getting involved and staying connected.

We are delighted to share some of our latest accomplishments and activities with you and look forward to your feedback for future editions.