HealthDay News — Adults with disabilities are disproportionately affected by adverse mental health symptoms and substance use during COVID-19, according to research published in the Aug. 27 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Mark É. Czeisler, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues surveyed 5,256 U.S. adults during February to March 2021 to identify factors associated with adverse mental health symptoms and substance use among adults with disabilities. Of the 5,119 respondents who completed a two-item disability screener, 32.2 percent screened as adults with disabilities.
The researchers found that compared with adults without disabilities, adults with disabilities more often experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression (56.6 versus 28.7 percent), new or increased substance use (38.8 versus 17.5 percent), and suicidal ideation (30.6 versus 8.3 percent). Adults with disabilities more often reported that the pandemic made it harder for them to access related care or medication among all those who had received a diagnosis of mental health or substance use conditions (42.6 versus 35.3 percent).
“Strategies designed to increase access to care and medication during public health emergencies, such as telehealth, might consider telemedicine platform and system accessibility for adults with disabilities,” the authors write. “Further research to identify and address health disparities among adults with disabilities could help guide additional evidence-based strategies.”
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.