Indicators of poor mental health and stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic, by disability status: A cross-sectional analysis

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Disabil Health J. 2021 Apr 21:101110. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2021.101110. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Evidence from previous public health emergencies indicates that adults with disabilities have higher risk for morbidity (physical and mental) and mortality than adults without disabilities.

OBJECTIVE: To provide estimates of mental health indicators and stressors for US adults by disability status during April and May 2020, shortly following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: We analyzed data from Porter Novelli View 360 opt-in Internet panel survey conducted during the weeks of April 20th and May 18th, 2020 among 1004 English-speaking adults aged ≥18 years without and with disabilities (serious difficulty with hearing, vision, cognition, or mobility; any difficulty with self-care or independent living). Weighted logistic regression was used to test for significant differences between calculated prevalence estimates at the P ≤ .05 level.

RESULTS: One in four adults reported any disability. Adults with any disability were significantly more likely than adults without disability to report current depressive symptoms, frequent mental distress, suicidal ideation, and COVID-19-related initiated or increased substance use (all p values < .0001). Adults with disabilities also reported significantly higher levels of stressors, such as access to health care services (p < .0001), difficulty caring for their own (or another’s) chronic condition (p < .0001), emotional or physical abuse from others (p < .001), and not having enough food (p < .01).

CONCLUSIONS: The disproportionately high levels of poor mental health indicators among adults with disabilities as compared to those without highlight the importance of delivering timely mental health screening and treatment/intervention during and after the COVID-19 pandemic to persons with disabilities.

PMID:33962896 | DOI:10.1016/j.dhjo.2021.101110