Women with Disabilities
About 27 million women in the U.S. have disabilities – and the number is growing. More than 50% of women older than 65 are living with a disability. The most common cause of disability for women is arthritis or rheumatism.1
Women with disabilities may need specialty care to address their individual needs. In addition, they need the same general health care as women without disabilities, and they may also need additional care to address their specific needs. However, research has shown that many women with disabilities may not receive regular health screenings within recommended guidelines.2
This section of our website has tools and health information for women with disabilities.
Breast Cancer Screening: The Right To Know
Breast cancer is a major public health concern for all women, including women with disabilities. Women who have disabilities are just as likely as women without disabilities to have ever received a mammogram. However, they are significantly less likely to have been screened within the recommended guidelines. CDC has developed a family of health promotion materials (e.g., posters, MP3 files, low-tech fliers, print advertisements, and tip sheets) to increase awareness of breast cancer among women with physical disabilities and encourage these women to get screened. Materials share the tagline “Breast Cancer Screening: The Right To Know” and feature four women with physical disabilities who have survived breast cancer.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Cervical cancer is the easiest female cancer to prevent, with regular screening tests and follow-up. It also is highly curable when found and treated early. All women are at risk for cervical cancer, including women with disabilities. It occurs most often in women over age 30. It is important to get tested for cervical cancer because 6 out of 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years. Learn more about cervical cancer screening.
Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD)
CROWD promotes, develops, and disseminates information to improve the health and expand the life choices of women with disabilities. The site provides information on sexuality, reproductive health, self-esteem, stress management, and more.
The federal government’s source for women’s health information.
Women’s Health Information from CDC
CDC’s website on women’s health: working to promote and protect the health, safety, and quality of life of women at every stage of life.
People with disabilities need health care and health programs for the same reasons anyone else does—to stay well, active, and a part of the community.
Having a disability does not mean a person can’t be healthy. Being healthy means the same thing for all of us—getting and staying in good physical, mental, and emotional health so we can lead full, active lives. That means having the tools and information to make healthy choices and knowing how to prevent illness.
Intimate Partner Violence
Each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes. Research has shown that women with a disability are more likely to experience intimate partner violence (IPV) than those without a disability. In fact, researchers found that 37.3% of women with a disability were much more likely to report experiencing some form of IPV during their lifetime; this compared with 20.6% of women without a disability..
- CDC. Prevalence and Most Common Causes of Disability Among Adults — United States, 2005. MMWR. 2009;58(16);421-426.
- Armour BS, Thierry JM, Wolf LA. State-level differences in breast and cervical cancer screening by disability status: United States, 2008. Womens Health Issues. 2009 Nov-Dec;19(6):406-14.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006.
- Page last reviewed: August 3, 2017
- Page last updated: March 31, 2014
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