Is disability exclusion associated with psychological distress? Australian evidence from a national cross-sectional survey
AuthorTemple, JB; Kelaher, M
Source TitleBMJ Open
PublisherBMJ PUBLISHING GROUP
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsTemple, J. B. & Kelaher, M. (2018). Is disability exclusion associated with psychological distress? Australian evidence from a national cross-sectional survey. BMJ OPEN, 8 (5), https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020829.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLPublished version
OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between disability exclusion and psychological distress. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Population-based study of individuals living in households across Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Respondents were persons aged 15 and over living with a disability. PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Reporting an experience of discrimination or avoidance behaviour due to a respondent's disability. High or very high levels of psychological distress measured using the Kessler K10 instrument. METHODOLOGY: Using the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, we calculated the prevalence of persons with a disability experiencing psychological distress, disaggregated by experiences of disability exclusion, including discrimination and avoidance. Logistic regression models were fitted to examine the association between disability exclusion and psychological distress, once extensive controls and adjustments for survey design and presence of psychosocial disabilities were considered. RESULTS: About 62% of persons citing an experience of disability discrimination were in psychological distress, compared with 27% of those citing no discrimination. Furthermore, 53% of those who actively avoided social, familial or economic activities because of their disability experienced psychological distress, compared with 19% of those who did not avoid these situations. After controlling for demographic characteristics and disabling conditions, reporting an experience of disability discrimination or disability avoidance increased the odds of psychological distress by 2.2 (95% CI 1.74 to 2.26) and 2.6 (95% CI 2.28 to 2.97) times, respectively. Those who experienced both avoidance and discrimination were 3.7 (95% CI 2.95 to 4.72) times more likely to be in psychological distress than those experiencing neither. Avoidance and discrimination in healthcare settings were also found to be strongly associated with experiencing psychological distress. CONCLUSIONS: Given new policy initiatives to improve disability care, coupled with the increasing speed of population ageing, the onus is on governments and its citizenry to address disability exclusion to offset potential mental health impacts.
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