Health of Parents with Disabilities
Susan Parish, PhD, MSW
January, 18th, 2018

Webinar 1: Health of Parents with Disabilities

Play recording (57 min)

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Presenter: Susan Parish, PhD, MSW (

Abstract: The health of parents with disabilities is not well understood. Existing research has used small, non-representative samples. The lack of research using national representative data has hindered advocacy and policy-making efforts. In the present study, we used nationally representative data to examine the prevalence rates of chronic physical health conditions among parents with disabilities and compared them to parents without disabilities. We analyzed pooled and linked data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the corresponding National Health Interview Survey. We examined age-adjusted health differences of US parents with and without disabilities. Outcome measures included obesity, arthritis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, emphysema, high cholesterol, hypertension, and stroke. After controlling for covariates and adjusting for age, parents with disabilities had significantly higher odds of having each of the chronic conditions. Parents with disabilities also have significant higher odds of having 2 conditions, 3 conditions, and 4 or more conditions. Parents with disabilities have significantly poorer health than parents without disabilities.

Presenter bio:

Susan Parish, PhD, MSW is Dean of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and Professor of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. Prior to joining Northeastern University, she was the inaugural Nancy Lurie Marks Endowed Professor of Disability Policy and Director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, at Brandeis University. Her research examines the health and financial well-being of children and adults with disabilities, and their caregiving families. Her work, supported by more than $12 million of external funding over the past decade, has resulted in more than 130 articles, book chapters, policy briefs and monographs, including more than 80 scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals. She has won numerous national awards including the Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research and the Research Matters! award from the Arc of the United States. She is a Fellow of the American Association of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities and a Fellow of the Society for Social Work Research. She is a member of the National Academy on Social Insurance. A committed educator, Dr. Parish also won numerous awards for her teaching and mentorship at both the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and at Brandeis University.

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