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Blacks, Some Hispanics More Likely To Become Disabled

Armen Hareyan's picture

Blacks and some Hispanics over age 65 are more likely than their whitecounterparts to develop a disability, in large part because ofsocioeconomic and health statuses, according to a report published inthe December issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Reuters Health reports.

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For the report, Northwestern Universityresearchers led by Dorothy Dunlop compared disability among blacks,Hispanics and whites using a nationally representative group of 8,161healthy men and women over age 65. After six years, black participantswere 60% more likely and Hispanics who chose to be interviewed inSpanish were 80% more likely than whites to develop a disability,researchers found. Hispanics interviewed in English had a disabilityrisk similar to whites, according to the report.

Researchersfound virtually no disability disparities existed among the groupsafter taking into account socioeconomic status and healthy behaviors,such as exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.Researchers concluded that healthy behaviors had more of an effect onwhether a person developed a disability than chronic illness did. Blackparticipants and Spanish-speaking Hispanic participants were lesslikely to engage in healthy behaviors, according to the report.Minorities also were less likely to have private supplemental healthinsurance in addition to Medicare -- a factor thought to lessen aperson's chance of developing a disability.

Dunlop said thatculturally tailored programs that increase physical activity andemphasize having a healthy weight "may prove to be efficient strategiesnot only for reducing rates of disability in activities of daily livingbut also for lowering racial/ethnic disparities in disability" (Reuters Health, 11/13).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.