Accurate assessments of need for disability assistance are essential for effective planning of disability support services, but there is little national data on type and acuity of need.
To more fully delineate the type and magnitude of disability assistance needs across the US population, focusing on factors associated with perceived gaps in assistance.
Secondary analysis of national household survey.
Twenty-five thousand eight hundred five adults identified as disabled in the 1994 and 1995 National Health Interview Surveys.
Self-reported assistance deficits with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).
An estimated 3.2 million adults with disabilities have at least one assistance deficit, usually involving IADLs like housework. However, approximately 970 thousand adults report one or more assistance deficits with basic ADLs. Compared to adults with met ADL needs, people with ADL assistance deficits are more likely to live alone, to be in poor health, to be a member of a racial or ethnic minority, and to need help with multiple activities.
These analyses suggest a relatively high rate of unmet and undermet need for disability assistance in the general population. However, only a small number of these adults report assistance deficits with basic ADLs. This group is a logical target for expanded state or federal personal assistance services programming.