Response to Health Promotion Panel

Vincent Campbell, PhD

I would advance that we have a fundamental problem in that addressing the health of people with disabilities is a challenge for public health. People do not get it. It's a special population. The Office of Smoking and Health, which would not dream of excluding women from their health promotion programs doesn't routinely include one fifth of the population. I think this is a problem. The work of everyone who has talked here today is fundamentally important. We are a special program. We are not integrated into the public health system of the United States. A significant event was the inclusion of a chapter in Healthy People 2010, the nation's health plan for people with disabilities. I think the big problem we have got is that we are out of health promotion and image. I view the main task to be accomplished is to get our programs integrated into these. Until that occurs, we are going to remain on the sidelines with our population.

I think it's very encouraging that we have made a lot of progress in this field. I think it's especially encouraging that we have many, many young investigators represented here from the institutions that are represented on the panel. One of the areas where there was a good bit of discussion was that we don't know where the research is being done. Is it at home or community based? Most people with disabilities actually live in their homes, in their communities. They are not hooked up with agencies. Much of the research that we have done is done with 70s samples. It’s not population based. For some populations we don't know what the population is. For instance, with intellectual disabilities we have a huge number of kids in schools that are identified as having mental retardation. However, when they leave school, we don't know where they are. People often don’t self identify as having a disability on surveys. This means we can't identify them and that’s another problem. I think we need to recognize that one big area we need to work on is to getting ourselves integrated into the larger public health effort in this country because otherwise, we're just going to remain on outside trying to get in and we don't have a budget to do it.