Physical health of disabled people

Disabled people often have poorer health compared to non-disabled people. There are ways that services can help improve the physical health of disabled people.

Article 25 of the United Nations convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities confers the right to “the highest attainable state of health.” However, disabled people often have poorer health compared to non-disabled people. For example:

  • people with intellectual disability often have a lower life expectancy, an increased risk of a range of chronic health conditions, and higher hospitalisation rates
  • people with physical disabilities are more likely to have chronic health conditions and secondary health conditions
  • some health risk factors are more common among disabled people
  • Māori and Pacific peoples have worse health on average compared with non-Māori and non-Pacific peoples, and have greater unmet needs for primary health care.

Improving the health of disabled people

There are ways that services can help improve the physical health of disabled people. For example:

  • providing information and education
  • increasing disability knowledge amongst healthcare providers
  • reducing communication barriers
  • providing annual health checks.

The resource A helping hand for highest attainable health outlines some of the ways services can get involved in improving the physical health of disabled people.