How can we measure disability in research related to the COVID-19 response?

MACTAGGART, Islay
KUPER, Hannah
Publication Date 
August 2020
4 p

There is growing evidence that COVID-19 is disproportionally impacting the lives of people with disabilities. This includes evidence of the increased risk of severe outcomes of contracting COVID-19 amongst people with existing health conditions, including many people with disabilities. It also includes a wide range of other potential impacts such as: reductions or disruptions in non-COVID-19 health or rehabilitation services, the effects of shielding on isolation and mental health, the implications of social distancing on people who require carer support, and the impact on poverty, participation and wellbeing due to disrupted disability-inclusive development programmes.

 

Measurement of disability in research has historically been contested and a number of different tools exist. Clear guidance is needed on how to determine which tool to use to understand the situation of people with disabilities in different settings, and plan responsive and inclusive COVID-19 programmes and policies to support their needs. Good quality, comparable data on disability is essential for tracking the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as prevention and mitigation interventions, amongst people with disabilities. Such evidence is also imperative for tracking progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and UNCRPD compliance.

 

This evidence brief synthesises findings from a scoping review of ICF-compatible tools to measure disability in population-based surveys with a focus on LMICs (2018), protocols and research outputs from seven population-based surveys of disability across Asia, Africa and the Pacific, secondary analyses of the South African Census, US National Health Interview Survey and three Demographic and Health Surveys, reflections from global stakeholders in disability measurement (including the UN Flagship Report on Disability), and evidence compiled for the upcoming Global Disability Research Massive Open Online Course at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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