Research & Resources

The Prevalence and Impact of Disability Among Healthcare Executives

Supplement to Healthcare Executive, November/December 2006

by Wayne M. Lerner, DPH, FACHE; Peter A. Weil, PhD, FACHE; and Kristi L. Kirschner, MD

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According to a sample survey of more than 829,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2003, 6.3 percent of noninstitutionalized workers had a disability. What is the extent of disability among ACHE affiliates? To answer this question, ACHE, in collaboration with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, sent a four-page fax questionnaire in fall 2005 to a random sample of ACHE affiliates.

We identified two criteria to establish whether an affiliate had a disability:

  1. Does the respondent have a condition that limits full participation in work?
  2. Does he or she have a learning, emotional or mental disability or disease; a sensory impairment; a physical handicap; pain; or chronic fatigue syndrome?

These criteria are similar to those the U.S. Census Bureau uses to define a disability.

The following appendixes are supplements to “The Prevalence and Impact of Disability Among Healthcare Executives,” published in the November/December 2006 issue of Healthcare Executive.


Appendix A: About the Survey

To determine the approximate proportion of healthcare executives with a disability, a random sample of ACHE’s active affiliates was selected. Initially, 2,000 affiliates were chosen; faxes sent to 270 individuals were unsuccessfully transmitted, leaving 1,730 affiliates in the final sample. It had been previously determined that the most cost-effective and expeditious method of administration would be via fax.

Of the 1,730 affiliates who were sent faxes in mid-September 2005 and again in early October to nonrespondents, 832 responded, yielding a 48 percent response rate. A nonresponse analysis was conducted to determine if nonrespondents were demographically different from respondents to the survey. The analysis showed that respondents were no different from nonrespondents in the level of position they held or in gender. However, a higher proportion of Fellows (60 percent) than Members (43 percent) responded.


Appendix B: Data Tables

Number sampled: 1,730
Number received: 832
Response rate: 48%
Date faxed: September 15, 2005
Second fax: October 3, 2005

Note: Of the 832 healthcare executives who responded to the survey, 63, or 7.6 percent, indicated an affirmative response to one of the items in Questions 1 and/or 2 below. The percentages presented in the tables below are based on the 63 individuals who indicated they had some disability.


1. Does a disability currently keep you from participating fully in work, that is, to the same extent as your peers?

Percent Number
Yes 21 12
No 78 45
No comment 1 1
  100% 58


2. Please indicate whether or not you have any of the following:

  Row percentage Number
Yes No Yes No
A learning disability (e.g., dyslexia) 10 90 6 57
An emotional or a mental disability or condition (e.g., depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disease) 16 84 10 53
A speech impairment 2 98 1 62
A hearing impairment 32 68 20 43
Any vision impairment except for ordinary eyeglasses 11 89 7 56
Any physical handicap or disability that limits use of your hands, arms or legs 10 90 6 57
Chronic pain 29 71 18 44
Chronic fatigue syndrome 6 94 4 58
Any physical disability other than those stated above (please specify) 15 85 9 53


Other disabilities mentioned Total cited
Pain in joints/back or joint replacement 2
Asthma 1
Cancer 1
Physical injury 1
Bell’s palsy 1
Fibromyalgia 1


3. Please enter the name or nature of your disabilities:

Name/nature of disability Total cited
Hearing loss 12
Discomfort in joints 5
Depression (includes one manic depressive) 5
Physical injury 4
Eye disorder 4
Reading disorder 3
Cancer 2
Brain disorder 2
Joint replacement 2
Organ problem 2
Heart problem 2
Chronic fatigue 2
Anxiety 2
ADHD 2
Diabetes 1
Intestinal problem 1
Hormone problem 1
Sleep disorder 1
Respiratory problem 1
Blood disorder 1
Missing a limb 1
Nerve disorder 1
HIV/AIDS 1
Orthopedic disability 1
Infection 1
Verbal disorder 1


4. Would you say your disability is:

  Percent Number
Slight 36 22
Moderate 47 29
Somewhat severe 15 9
Very severe 2 1
  100% 61


5. Does your disability affect you:

  Percent Number
Daily 70 42
Weekly 12 7
Monthly 8 5
Less often than monthly 10 6
  100% 60


6. At what age did your disability begin?

  • Median 34
  • Mean 32
  • [25th percentile = 20; 75th percentile = 45]

7. In column 1 please circle which of the following best describes your current employment situation. In column 2 please circle which best describes your current preferred employment situation.

  Percent Number
  Current Preferred Current Preferred
Working full time for an employer 92 86 54 50
Working part time for an employer 2 4 1 2
Self-employed 5 3 3 2
Unemployed
Retired 3 2
Other current (please specify) 2 1
Other preferred (please specify) 3 2
  100% 100% 59 58


8. If you are not currently in your most preferred employment situation, please indicate the main reason(s) by circling the response codes below.

  Total cited
Unable to conduct a job search due to a health
problem or disability
0
Cannot find a job that accommodates my disability 1
Difficulty traveling to work 0
Might lose income assistance or health benefits if I obtain a job 1
My age 1
Perceived performance inadequacy 2
Lack of funding 3
Other reason (please specify) 1
Don’t know 1
  (n = 9)


9. Do you feel that you have ever encountered job discrimination because of your disability?

  Percent Number
Yes 12 7
No 86 51
Don’t know 2 1  
  100% 59

10. What kind of job discrimination did you encounter as a result of your disability?

  Total cited
I was denied a job interview 1
I was denied a job 1
I was denied a job promotion 3
I was given lesser responsibilities than my co-workers 1
I was denied a workplace accommodation (e.g., more accessible shelves) 3
I was paid less than other workers in similar jobs with similar skills 1
I was denied health insurance 0
I was denied other work-related benefit(s) 0
I encountered other discrimination (please specify) 3


11. In general, how would you characterize your health?

  Percent Number
Excellent 27 16
Good 59 35
Fair 14 8
Poor 0 0
  100% 59


12. Number who ever use:

Equipment such as a walker, wheelchair, scooter, lift designed for wheelchairs or scooters, or any other devices that help with mobility 1
Voice-recognition technology, a special keyboard or mouse, or any other devices that help with limited dexterity or use of your hands or arms 0
Prostheses or orthoses of any kind 2
Modifications to furniture such as desks, tables or toilets 4
Any devices, electronic or otherwise, designed to assist with speech communication 3
Hearing aids or other devices to assist with limited hearing or deafness 17
Braille notetakers, screen readers, special computer software or any other devices to assist with vision or blindness 1
Flexible work schedule 9
Work from home 9
Extra time to complete projects 8
A personal assistant 3
My work place is acceptably configured to meet my needs 28


13. To what extent do you feel that you have a sense of common identity with other people with disabilities?

  Percent Number
No sense of common identity 29 17
Some sense 48 28
Somewhat strong sense 9 5
Very strong sense 10 6
Don’t know 3 2
  100% 58


14. Do you feel that your disability has prevented you from reaching what you feel is your full potential as a person?

  Percent Number
Yes, to a great extent 8 5
Yes, to a limited extent 30 18
No 60 36
Don’t know 2 1


15. Finally, on the lines below, please tell us what the healthcare management profession needs to do to ensure equitable treatment of its members with disabilities.

  Total cited
Greater understanding of the handicapped 18
Disability-ready facilities 13
Diversity training 8
Increased publications/reports on the topic 6
Flexible time schedule 5
Nonresponse/already doing a good job 3
Need ACHE support 2
Insurance compliance 1
Hiding the disability to get/keep a job 1
Need support outside of work 1


Appendix C: List of Disabilities That Prevent Full Participation at Work

Following is a list of the specific disability that was associated with those who indicated that a disability currently keeps them from participating fully in work, that is, to the same extent as their peers.

  1. Corneas are dying
  2. Coronary artery disease (two myocardial infarctions, three coronary stents); clinical depression; cancer
  3. Manic depression
  4. HIV/AIDS
  5. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  6. Severe hearing loss due to military combat service
  7. Degenerated hip/joint replacement
  8. Bell’s palsy
  9. Complete loss of hearing in one ear; partial in the other
  10. Chronic low back issues
  11. Degenerative disc causing severe back pain, sometimes leg pain
  12. Chronic pain due to Lyme disease

Appendix D: Age Distribution of Respondents by Type of Disability

  Number
Type of Disability <35
(n = 6)
35–44
(n = 12)
45–54
(n = 21)
55–59
(n=13)
60+
(n = 9)
Learning 2 2 1
Emotional/mental 2 3 2 2 1
Speech 0 0 1 0 0
Hearing 0 3 5 7 5
Vision 1 0 2 1 3
Hands, arms or legs 0 3 1 1 1
Chronic pain 1 6 7 3 1
Chronic fatigue 1 1 0 2 0
Other 0 0 6 1 1