Do disability, parenthood, and gender matter for health disparities?: A US population-based study

Do disability, parenthood, and gender matter for health disparities?: A US population-based study

E.H. Namkung; M. Mitra; J.Nicholson

Co-residence; Father; Health behavior; Health-related quality of life; Mother
Disability and Health Journal, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 594 - 601
Journal Title
Disability and Health Journal
Background: Existing research has documented adverse health outcomes among parents with disabilities relative to parents without disabilities, but little is known about whether parenthood adds unique stress and health consequences for people with disabilities. Less is known about whether the effects of parenthood differ between mothers and fathers with disabilities.

Objectives: This paper examined health-related quality of life, obesity, and health behaviors between US parents and nonparents with and without disabilities. We also explored differences in health outcomes separately for men and women by one's parental and disability status.

Methods: An analytic sample of parents and nonparents aged 18-64, with and without disabilities, were derived from the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (9,117 parents and 33,961 nonparents with disabilities). Multivariate logistic regression analyses were applied, controlling for individuals' socio-demographic characteristics and their history of chronic conditions.

Results: Parents with disabilities, compared to parents without disabilities and nonparents with and without disabilities, were at higher risk of reporting frequent physical distress, obesity, smoking, and insufficient sleep. Among those with disabilities, fathers were more likely than nonfathers to report poor or fair health, frequent physical and mental distress, and obesity; these differences were not evident between mothers and nonmothers with disabilities.

Conclusions: The findings suggest the urgent need for policies and programs to address the health-related needs of parents with disabilities, as well as the need for targeted programs to support fathers with disabilities.
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