April is National Minority Health Month, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), and the theme this year is Active & Healthy, which underscores how physical activity promotes health and reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, which are among the most common causes of disability in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these conditions and the factors that lead to them can be more common or severe for minority groups. Research from the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) has shown that health disparities may be greater for people with disabilities who are from minority communities.
Health and wellness programs can support people with disabilities as they strive to be “Active & Healthy.” Some programs may be geared to specific disability types or minority groups; others may aim for inclusiveness and welcoming people of varying abilities. Throughout its history, NIDILRR-funded research has sought to address health and physical activity for people with disabilities, including minorities with disabilities. Recent research and development projects include:
- The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health addresses the health and function of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) over their lifespans. Researchers at this Center are scaling up the HealthMatters Program to help people with IDD improve their health.
- The Thresholds Health Literacy and Wellness Promotion Center addresses the health and wellness of people in recovery from psychiatric disabilities with other co-occurring disabilities and physical health conditions, focusing on health literacy and promoting wellness as a means to enhance recovery and function within the community.
- The Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities addresses the improvement of access to recreation and exercise venues and equipment, increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in beneficial exercise, the use of technology to support greater adherence to regular exercise, and the promotion of regular exercise and active lifestyles for people with disabilities to improve their health and function.
- The Partnerships in Wellness: Training and Technical Assistance project addressed the unique learning needs of adults with IDD by improving their quality of life and longevity through the increase of physical activity and reducing obesity and weight gain; preventing lifestyle related secondary conditions; and reducing associated health care costs. Curriculum materials are available free of charge.
- A Cultural Family Intervention After Brain Injury (CFlaBI) for African Americans has developed a cultural community-based intervention for African-American families facing traumatic brain injury (TBI). The intervention aims to address the culturally-based barriers and facilitators that can interfere with or enhance community integration and emotional well-being.
- The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Family Support bridges aging and disability research, practice, and policies to generate new knowledge in family supports which contributes to improvements in community living, participation, health and function, and other outcomes for people with disabilities from different racial and ethnic backgrounds who are supported by family members.
This is just a brief example of current and completed projects listed in the NIDILRR Program Database that have a focus on health, physical activity, and minorities with disabilities. If you are interested in published research in this area, follow the links below to explore abstracts from NARIC’s REHABDATA database:
- Publications on health and minorities from the NIDILRR community and beyond (+70).
- Publications on health and minorities from the international research community (+15).
- Publications on physical activity and minorities from the NIDILRR community and beyond (3).
- Publications on physical activity and minorities from the international research community (1).
- Publications on minorities with disabilities from the NIDILRR community and beyond (+200).
- Publications on minorities with disabilities from the international research community (+30).
This is just a brief example of what you will find in NARIC’s databases. If you are interested in published research in this area, contact NARIC’s information specialists to assist you with your search!