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Article Highlights: The Guide to Community Preventive Services and Disability Inclusion

Disabled Men with son on Wheelchair

People with disabilities need to be included and have access to the disease prevention and health promotion programs they need to stay healthy and lead full, active lives.

Making Community Services Inclusive

In a recent report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM), CDC scientists summarize how public health recommendations from the Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide) can be adapted to better benefit people with disabilities.

Why Is This Important?

One in five adults in the United States have some type of disability. Compared to adults without disabilities, adults with disabilities are more likely to be obese, smoke, have high blood pressure, and be physically inactive. Any of these can increase the risk for medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers, which are also more common among adults with disabilities.

People with disabilities need health programs and services for the same reasons anyone does – to be healthy, active, and part of the community. However, they frequently experience barriers that keep them from obtaining the health care they need and participating in health promotion and disease prevention programs in their communities.

What Can Be Done?

As community organizations and public health officials implement the recommendations found in the Community Guide, they may wish to consider removing the health barriers people with disabilities sometimes face when trying to use these programs. With the appropriate adaptations, people with disabilities are more able to benefit from the disease prevention and health promotion programs they need to stay active and healthy, and lead full lives.

The Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide) is a resource where public health officials and community organizations can go to see what proven programs exist to address public health issues, such as cancer screenings, access to physical activity, drinking and smoking, among many others.

There are several types of changes that health promotion and disease prevention programs —such as those within in the Community Guide— can use to make sure people with disabilities are included, such as

  • Communication and technology changes, which include having accessible communication formats (for example, large print, braille, screen reader and other alternative formats) and using images of people with disabilities to promote and provide examples of healthy behaviors among this population.
  • Customer services changes, which include making sure program staff receive training about disability-related topics, such as disability awareness, customer service for people with disabilities, and understanding responsibilities concerning service animals.
  • Environmental changes to remove barriers—such as lack of accessible transportation, difficulty navigating the program site, lack of accessible equipment, and poor lighting—which may prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in the programs.

A table indicating types of changes for each type of program is included with the AJPM report as online supplemental information. This resource can be used to guide specific changes that can improve the access of people with disability to these proven health promotion and disease prevention programs.

People with disabilities are the best advocates for appropriate adaptations to public health interventions. Including people with disabilities from the beginning of an implementation will help a program succeed.

Read the full AJPM report: The Guide to Community Preventive Services and Disability Inclusion.

CDC’s Activities

    • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities, and
    • Improve access to healthcare services for people with disabilities.

Reference for Highlighted Article

Hinton CF, Kraus LE, Richards TA, Fox MH, Campbell VA. The Guide to Community Preventive Services and Disability Inclusion. Am J Prev Med. 2017: S0749-3797. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.06.025. [Epub ahead of print]

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