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Finding disability data

Understanding disability statistics

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The Disability Statistics Center produces and disseminates policy-relevant statistical information on the demographics and status of people with disabilities in American society. The Center's work focuses on how that status is changing over time with regard to employment, access to technology, health care, community-based services, and other aspects of independent living and participation in society.

The Center is based at the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). It receives funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

What's New

Forum on unmet need for personal assistance services

The Disability Statistics Center and the new Center for Personal Assistance Services co-sponsored the Tenth National Disability Statistics and Policy Forum in Washington, DC, on October 27, 2003. This year's Forum focused on Unmet Need for Personal Assistance Services: Prevalence, Consequences, Costs, and Policy Options. Researchers, policymakers, PAS users, long-term care providers, and others gathered to discuss results of recent studies on adults with unmet needs, and to plan how to translate the findings into concrete policy steps.

Unmet need is a critical issue for PAS users. Researchers Mitch LaPlante, H. Stephen Kaye, Taewoon Kang, and Charlene Harrington at the Disability Statistics Center presented results of a recent national study that shows that unmet need is highly associated with numerous adverse consequences including falls, injuries, dehydration, weight loss, burns, and other problems that can worsen health and disability. The study determines how many hours of help are lacking among PAS users with unmet need, and demonstrates that relatively modest additional public expenditures can help ease this problem.

Highlights of the DSC study's findings:

Other presenters at the Forum explored causes of unmet need. Susan Allen of Brown University presented her research on predictors of unmet need for PAS, and discussed individual and environmental factors related to unmet need. Charlene Harrington of UCSF presented findings from a national survey of state Medicaid policies, focusing on selected indicators of unmet need. Finally, a panel discussion with Josh Wiener, Judy Feder, Mary Giliberti, and Alfred DeGraff offered diverse views on what can be done to target unmet need in long-term care.

Center for Personal Assistance Services

DSC researchers have key roles in the new Center for Personal Assistance Services, also based at UCSF. The Center will conduct research, training, dissemination and technical assistance on a broad spectrum of PAS issues, including:

Charlene Harrington is Principal Investigator of the Center, and DSC researchers Mitch LaPlante, H. Stephen Kaye, and Robert Newcomer will serve as co-investigators.