Health Risks and Consequences of a COVID-19 Infection for People with Disabilities: Scoping Review and Descriptive Thematic Analysis.

Peer-reviewed article
(2021 Apr) Int J Environ Res Public Health, 18


Kamalakannan S, Bhattacharjya S, Bogdanova Y, Papadimitriou C, Arango-Lasprilla JC, Bentley J, Jesus TS, Refugee Empowerment Task Force International Networking Group Of The American Congress Of Rehabilitation Medicine


This study aims to synthesize the literature on any disproportionate health risks or consequences of a COVID-19 infection for people with disabilities. Scoping review with a descriptive thematic analysis was carried out. Up to mid-September 2020, seven scientific databases and three preprint servers were searched to identify empirical or perspective papers. Snowballing searches and expert' consultations also took place. Two independent reviewers were used for the screenings and data extractions. Of 1027 references, 58 were included, 15 of which were empirical articles. The thematic analysis showed that: (1) People with disabilities living in residential or long-term care facilities were more likely to have greater infection rates; (2) Intersecting mediators of greater infection risks were multiple (e.g., lack of accessible information); (3) People with disabilities often face greater health problems when infected; and (4) Unethical disadvantages in the rationing of lifesaving and critical care can be experienced by people with disabilities. Conclusions: Beyond any health-related vulnerabilities (e.g., comorbidity rates), multiple yet modifiable environmental factors can provide disproportionate health risks and consequences of a COVID-19 infection for people with disabilities. Public health and policy measures must prevent or reduce modifiable environmental risks.