This article was originally published here
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2021 Dec 2. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2021.5072. Online ahead of print.
IMPORTANCE: Despite documented disparities in health care for patients with significant vision impairments and legal mandates that patients with disability receive equitable care, little is known about the extent to which physicians practicing in the US accommodate these patients in outpatient clinical settings.
OBJECTIVE: To empirically explore the extent of basic accommodations physicians practicing in the US provide to patients with significant vision limitations in outpatient care.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: In this physician survey study, randomly selected physicians were surveyed throughout the US on their attitudes toward patients with disability. A total of 1400 randomly selected active board-certified physicians representing 7 specialties (family medicine, general internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, and obstetrics-gynecology) were surveyed. Data were collected from October 2019 to June 2020.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Reported use of basic accommodations when caring for patients with significant vision limitations (defined here as blind or significant difficulty seeing even with glasses or other corrective lenses). Physicians’ accommodation performance was assessed based on whether they always or usually described the clinic space and always or usually provided printed material in large font. Use of Braille materials was reported too rarely to include in analyses.
RESULTS: Of the 462 survey participants, 297 of 457 (65.0%) were male. The weighted response rate was 61.0%. Only 48 physicians (9.1%; 95% CI, 6.6-12.3) provided both accommodations (always or usually describing clinic spaces and providing large-font materials), while 267 (60.2%; 95% CI, 55.3-65.0) provided neither of these accommodations. Although 62.8% (95% CI, 57.5-67.8; n = 245) of nonophthalmologists did not provide either accommodation, 29.3% (95% CI, 20.1-40.7; n = 22) of ophthalmologists also did not do so; only 24.0% (95% CI, 15.6-35.0; n = 18) of ophthalmologists provided both accommodations compared with 8.4% (95% CI, 5.4-12.7) of other physicians.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This survey study suggests that less than one-tenth of physicians practicing in the US who care for patients with significant vision limitations usually or always describe clinic spaces or provide large-font materials, and less than one-third of ophthalmologists do so. Actions to address this seem warranted.