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Doctors and disabilities

  • Season: Season 4
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Do physicians engage in discrimination?

More than 60 million Americans live with a disability and that number will grow as the baby boomers continue to age. But new research throws into question whether those people are receiving the best care possible.

More than four out of five physicians say someone with a significant disability has a worse quality of life than someone without a disability. A minority of physicians — only 42% — feels strongly confident that they can provide equal quality of care to their patients with disabilities as they provide to other patients. And a large number of doctors say they do not strongly welcome disabled patients to their practice.

On today's program, a conversation with Harvard's Lisa Iezzoni, M.D. — a researcher at the Health Policy Research Center at Mass. General Hospital. She has been studying healthcare for people with disability for a generation now and finds the attitudes of her fellow physicians alarming, even 30 years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


An online transcript is available.

Lisa Iezzoni, M.D.

Health Policy Research Center

Massachusetts General Hospital


Harvard Medical School

Boston, Mass.




Physicians’ Perceptions Of People With Disability And Their Health Care, Lisa I Iezzoni, M.D., al., Health Aff (Millwood). 2021 February

What should we teach about disability? National consensus on disability competencies for health care education, Susan Havercamp, Ph.D., et al. (Disability and Health Journal)

A call to action: Preparing a disability-competent health care workforce, Christina Neill Bowen MSW, LICSW et al. (Disability and Health Journal)

The Ohio Disability and Health Partnership

Nisonger Institute at The Ohio State University


  • Lisa Iezzoni M.D.
  • Seán Collins


  • disparities
  • disability
  • physician attitudes
  • physician bias