Disability rates among adolescents: An international comparison

Joan Carles Suris, Robert W. Blum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Given the paucity of international comparative data, this paper analyzes United Nations data on young people (ages 10-19 years) with disabilities for the purposes of (a) highlighting available information on these populations by age and gender; (b) analyzing interrelationships among and between disability prevalence rates for young people and socioeconomic, health, and geographic variables; and (c) recommending future research. Utilizing the United Nations International Disability Statistics Database (DISTAT), 19 countries with reported data on 10- to 14-year-old young people and 23 countries with data on 15- to 19-year-old young people with disabilities were analyzed. Independent variables included geographic location, age, gender, gross national product (GNP), female illiteracy, access to health care, infant mortality, life expectancy, and fertility rate. There was wide variance in disability rates for young people among the countries studied. Consistently, adolescent males had higher rates than females. A positive correlation was found between disability rates and GNP. Consistently higher rates were noted for rural areas. There appears to be a lack of consistence in definitions of disabilities among countries studied, which influences prevalence rates. Methodologies for data collection may also vary. The higher rates for males may reflect gender bias in the provision of medical interventions in many developing countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-552
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Disability prevalence International data comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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