Perceptions of primary healthcare services among persons with physical disabilities - part 2: quality issues.
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BACKGROUND: The ability of persons with disabilities to access quality primary care in Canada is not well documented. This article reports on the perceived quality of primary care received by persons with disabilities by looking at utilization of elements of the health maintenance examination, referrals, health promotion, healthcare provider role clarification, and satisfaction. METHODS: A sample of convenience was undertaken whereby an anonymous self-report questionnaire, which included the Short Form-36 Health Survey, was mailed to members of several Canadian disability organizations and persons discharged within the last 2 years from a rehabilitation hospital. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences was used to analyze the data. RESULTS: A total of 201 individuals (20% response rate) completed and returned the surveys, 61.2% of whom were women. Some elements of the health maintenance examination, including Pap tests, mammogram referral, and measurement of blood pressure (BP), were not markedly different from population census data. Inquiry around health promotion was low, as 61.7% of our sample did not receive a functional assessment, 58.2% were not asked about emotions, and only 10% were asked about physical or sexual violence. Diet, exercise, smoking, pain, sleep, alcohol, sex, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and reproductive choices were discussed in varying degrees. INTERPRETATION: Among respondents in our survey, disabled women were able to access important screening tests. Health promotion services, however, were often not offered. The particular healthcare needs of disabled women and men -- eg, having a condition that may be progressive, being at increased risk of secondary disability and the added effects of aging -- may be addressed more effectively by including health promotion. It is proposed that functional assessment, emotional inquiry, and role clarification could improve the delivery of health promotion and the perceived quality of care received.
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