Disability and Health Data Now

Photo collage showing diverse group of people with disabilities. Disability and Health Data System. DHDS.

There are important health differences between people with and without disabilities. Do you know what they are in your state? The Disability and Health Data System (DHDS) can help you find out. 

Disability doesn’t have to equal poor health. However, adults with disabilities are more likely to be obese,1 smoke,2 have high blood pressure,3 and be physically inactive.4 These are all preventable factors that can increase the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers,4-6 which are also more common among adults with disabilities.7

CDC created the Disability and Health Data System (DHDS) to provide the vital information needed to better understand the health needs of adults with disabilities at the state and national levels. Equipped with these data, state epidemiologists, researchers, policy makers, public health professionals and everyone interested in the health of adults with disabilities can plan for inclusive communities that offer the programs and services needed to improve the health of this population.


  • Interactive—An online, easy-to-use data tool that provides state- and national-level data on approximately 30 health topics for adults with disabilities.
  • Customizable—You can explore data by indicator (e.g., health topic) or by location, then customize maps, charts, and tables, making it easy to view information for your state.

Data Available in DHDS

DHDS includes analyzed data from 2016–2021 in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) on

  • Disability estimates
    • *Disability status (any disability or no disability) and disability types (cognitive, mobility, vision, self-care, independent living, and hearing disability) overall; and
    • By age, sex, race/ethnicity, veteran status.

*Respondents were defined as having any disability if they reported serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions (cognitive disability); serious difficulty hearing or deafness (hearing disability), serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs (mobility disability); serious difficulty seeing or blindness (vision disability); difficulty dressing or bathing (self-care disability); or difficulty doing errands alone (independent living disability).

  • Demographics among adults with and without disabilities and by disability types
    • Income level;
    • Education level;
    • Marital status; and
    • Employment status.
  • Approximately 30 health topics among adults with and without disabilities and by disability types, including
    • Smoking;
    • Obesity;
    • Heart disease;
    • Diabetes;
    • Binge drinking;
    • Flu vaccine; and
    • Healthcare coverage.

With DHDS, you can answer questions, such as

  • What is the percentage of adults with a disability in my state?
  • How does this population vary by age, sex, and race/ethnicity?
  • How does my state compare with other states and the nation?
  • How does the percentage of depression, diabetes, obesity, or smoking vary among people with select disability types?

CDC’s Partners and State Programs are Using DHDS


Dr. Scott Crawford, in his wheelchair

Accessible communities make it easier for people with disabilities to be independent. Here, Dr. Scott Crawford is shown grocery shopping in his community in Jackson, Mississippi.

Dr. Scott Crawford, former chair of the Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities and avid advocate of people with multiple sclerosis (like himself) and other disabilities, regularly uses data from DHDS to raise awareness about the health disparities and systemic barriers that people with disabilities face in Mississippi. As a wheelchair user, Dr. Crawford knows how difficult it can be to find affordable and accessible housing that enables people with disabilities to live their lives as independently as possible and have access to food, transportation, and other resources they need to live healthy and active lives. “Policymakers and advocates for integration need access to data that can answer their questions,” says Dr. Crawford. “They need to know, for example, that 37% of African-Americans in Mississippi have disabilities—the highest percentage among this population in the country—and many of them are low-income adults who don’t have access to the resources and healthcare they need.” Data can be incredibly helpful in allocating resources where they are needed most, going beyond the minimum requirements of the American with Disabilities Act to provide the resources that people with disabilities need to live healthier and happier lives. “It is important to understand that everything I can do for myself is one less thing society has to do for me,” says Dr. Crawford. He works to ensure that people with disabilities have every opportunity to live independently, participate actively in their communities, and reach their full potential.

You Can Use DHDS to

DHDS logo

Use DHDS to help improve the health and the well-being of adults with disabilities in your state.

Get started now!
Visit DHDS at https://dhds.cdc.gov.

  • Identify health differences between adults with and without disabilities overall and by age, sex, and race/ethnicity;
  • Download data for use in presentations, reports, or fact sheets;
  • Inform partners, policymakers, and communities about the health of adults with select functional disability types; and
  • Make the case for the inclusion of people with disabilities in community programs and services they need to improve their health.

Disability & Health U.S. State Profiles

CDC also has state profile fact sheets that provide an overview of disability in each state, including the percentages and characteristics of adults with and without disabilities. Click on any state listed here to view that state’s profile.

  1. Weil E, Wachterman M, McCarthy EP, et al. Obesity among adults with disabling conditions. JAMA. 2002; 288:1265–1268.
  2. Courtney-Long E, Stevens A, Caraballo R, Ramon I, Armour BS. Disparities in current cigarette smoking prevalence by type of disability, 2009–2011. Public Health Rep. 2014;129(3):252–60.
  3. Stevens A, Courtney-Long E, Gillespie C, Armour BS. Hypertension among US adults by disability status and type, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001–2010. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:E139.
  4. Hollis ND et al., Physical activity types among US adults with mobility disability, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2017. Disabil Health J. 2020:100888. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2020.100888
  5. Department of Health and Human Services (US). The health consequences of smoking: A report of the Surgeon General. Washington: HHS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health (US); 2004.
  6. Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, Cushman WC, Green LA, Izzo JLJr, et al. Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension. 2003;42(6):1206–52.
  7. Okoro CA, Hollis ND, Cyrus AC, Griffin-Blake S.  Prevalence of disabilities and health care access by disability status and type among adults — United States, 2016.  MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67:882–887. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6732a3External