An Examination of Health-Related Quality of Life, Health Status, and Access to Health Services of Students With Disabilities in a Rural Versus Urban Area

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Purpose: Young people with disabilities are faced with many restrictions for participation in the school and community, particularly in rural schools. These converging barriers create the need to examine the effect of context on students with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to compare health-related quality of life, health status, and access to health services of students with disabilities in a rural versus urban area.

Methods and Results: The study methodology will involve a descriptive, comparative mixed-methods design. Using the National Center for Health Statistics Urban-Rural Classification Scheme for Counties, one urban and one rural school district in Georgia were solicited for participation. Data were collected via survey instruments and in-depth interviews. Versions of the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI), and Child Health and Illness Profile (CHIPs) were used to examine self- and parent-reported levels health and self- and parent-reported health-related quality of life. A small subsample of the parents in each context were included for participation in individual qualitative interviews based on the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs 2009-2010. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Using content analysis, the transcriptions were analyzed for emerging themes. Means for subscales on the PODCI and CHIPS were calculated for students and parents in both rural and urban areas and group differences were examined via multivariate analyses. Results from the needs assessment are in progress.

Conclusion: The results will provide information for public health professionals to improve services provided to young people with disabilities.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Boston, MA