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Notices to Readers Publication of Institute of Medicine Report, Disability in America

In September 1988, CDC and the National Council on Disability requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) develop recommendations for a national agenda for the prevention of disabilities. As a consequence, IOM developed and published Disability in America: Toward a National Agenda for Prevention.

The IOM report focuses on preventing conditions that potentially lead to disability, preventing the occurrence of secondary conditions in persons with disabilities, and minimizing the effects of such conditions on productivity and quality of life. In particular, the report notes that

  • about one in seven persons in the United States has physical or mental impairments serious enough to affect daily activities;

  • the annual cost of disability to the nation is almost $200 billion;

  • disabilities occur disproportionately among minorities, the elderly, and persons in lower socioeconomic groups;

  • disability has an impact on access to health services, education, employment, family, and the community; and

  • most disabilities are preventable.

Disability in America describes a model that approaches disability from social and public health perspectives; the report presents five strategies to reduce the incidence and prevalence of disability and its personal, social, and economic consequences: 1) organization and coordination within and between the public and private sectors, 2) public health surveillance, 3) research, 4) access to care and prevention services, and 5) professional and public education. Recommendations are offered to federal agencies, state and local programs, and the private sector to develop a coordinated, comprehensive national program to prevent disabilities (1).

Copies of Disability in America are available from National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20418. Reported by: AM Pope, PhD, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC. Disabilities Prevention Program, National Center for Environmental Health and Injury Control, CDC.


  1. Institute of Medicine. Disability in America: toward a national agenda for prevention. Wash ington, DC: National Academy Press, 1991.

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