Chartbook on Disability in New York State, 1998 - 2000

Cause of Disability

Each subject who responded affirmatively to one of the four screener items was also asked to identify the major impairment or health problem that limited his/her activities. Thirteen specific impairments were listed, with an additional response option of "other impairment/problem." The responses to this item are summarized in Table 1, which lists the top four most frequently reported activity-limiting conditions by disability status and age category. It is noteworthy that the nonspecific response of "other impairment/problem" was the most frequent selection by both working-age groups and was the second-ranked response among those aged 65 years and older. Unfortunately, such a general response category did not allow insight into the specific nature of the health problem leading to this response. However, of those specific impairments that were identifiable, "back or neck problems" was the most frequent response among both the 18-44 and 45-64 years age groups, regardless of disability status. Among, those aged 65 years and older, "arthritis/rheumatism" was the most frequently reported condition, with about one in four in both disability subgroups identifying this as the major cause of their limitation. It should also be noted that "arthritis/rheumatism" was the fourth most frequent response (8.6%) among those aged 18-44 years with a greater degree of disability. Also noteworthy is that 9.6% of this group identified depression or emotional problems as the major cause of their limitation.

Table 1.
Major Activity-Limiting Impairment or Health Problem (Four Most Frequent) among New York Adults, by Age Group and Disability Status: 1998-2000 BRFSS

Age Group
No Help1 Help2
Impairment Weighted
Impairment Weighted
1 No Help = Reported activity limitation, but need no help with daily personal care and routine needs.
2 Help = Reported activity limitation, and need help with daily personal care and/or routine needs.
Note: Percentages are weighted for selection probabilities and adjusted for age-sex-race distribution of New York adults.
  Other impairment/problem 36.4 Other impairment/problem 34.5
  Back or neck problem 20.9 Back or neck problem 26.0
  Bone fractures/joint injury 11.3 Depression/anxiety/emotional problem 9.6
  Lung/breathing problem 9.3 Arthritis/rheumatism 8.6
  Other impairment/problem 23.3 Other impairment/problem 23.2
  Back or neck problem 17.5 Back or neck problem 23.1
  Arthritis/rheumatism 14.7 Arthritis/rheumatism 12.5
  Heart problem 7.5 Heart problem 9.0
  Arthritis/rheumatism 24.4 Arthritis/rheumatism 27.9
  Other impairment/problem 21.5 Other impairment/problem 12.3
  Heart problem 11.6 Walking problem 12.3
  Back or neck problem 9.6 Heart problem 11.3
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