More than sixty-one million Americans have disabilities, and increasing evidence documents that they experience health care disparities. Although many factors likely contribute to these disparities, one little-studied but potential cause involves physicians’ perceptions of people with disability. In our survey of 714 practicing US physicians nationwide, 82.4 percent reported that people with significant disability have worse quality of life than nondisabled people. Only 40.7 percent of physicians were very confident about their ability to provide the same quality of care to patients with disability, just 56.5 percent strongly agreed that they welcomed patients with disability into their practices, and 18.1 percent strongly agreed that the health care system often treats these patients unfairly. More than thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was enacted, these findings about physicians’ perceptions of this population raise questions about ensuring equitable care to people with disability. Potentially biased views among physicians could contribute to persistent health care disparities affecting people with disability.
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