Dr. Lisa Iezzoni
, Massachusetts General Hospital
, reports that people with disabilities were less likely to get standard treatment for breast and lung cancer, and more likely to die from their cancers.
Twenty-years after the Americans With Disabilities Act took effect, people with disabiliites continue to face major obstacles getting a range of health services, from preventive care such as cancer screening to various treatments for disease.
This bleak analysis comes from Lisa Iezzoni, MD, director of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and is published in the October edition of the journal Health Affairs.
According to the MGH press release:
, who has used a wheelchair for nearly 25 years because of multiple sclerosis, explains, "An analogy I use to illustrate how disparities among racial and ethnic minorities differ from those affecting people with disabilities is that Rosa Parks made progress towards civil rights when she
could get onto that bus and sit anywhere she
also cites a major survey's findings that women with mobility disabilities were 70 percent less likely to be asked about contraception during routine medical visits, even though they could be at increased risk of unintended pregnancy because of difficulty using barrier contraceptives or would face heightened risk of complications from birth control pills.
Problems accessing health care facilities - including physician offices and hospital buildings - were often reported; and equipment such as examining tables, mammography machines or infusion chairs were frequently inaccessible.
One major academic health center did not have a wheelchair-accessible scale, requiring a breast cancer patient with paraplegia to be carried onto a standard scale by her
oncologist, since the patient's weight is essential to calculating chemotherapy dosage.
"People with disabilities want to be as involved in their care as anyone else would be," says Iezzoni, who is a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.