There are over 28 million women with disabilities in the United States .This includes women with mobility and self-care limitations of varying degrees. Many of these women have difficulty obtaining comprehensive, accessible, and dignified physical examinations. Additionally, patients and clinicians are often misinformed about issues pertaining to healthcare needs of women with disabilities . This article outlines strategies to overcome physical barriers and gaps in knowledge, and proposes creative solutions for common problems encountered during the performance of the basic physical examination of a woman who has disabilities. It discusses the reality of sexually transmitted disease, promotes awareness of abuse in the population of women with disabilities, and offers guidelines physicians can follow in assisting their patients in resolving this abuse.
Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians
After completion of this article, the reader will be able to understand the reasons why women with disabilities may not seek appropriate health care, and will be aware of the strategies used to overcome some of the physical barriers encountered during gynecologic evaluation of a women with disabilities.
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland; Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Center for Research on Women with Disabilities, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
Reprint requests to: Sandra L. Welner, MD, 8484 16th Street, Suite 707, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
The authors have disclosed no significant financial or other relationship with any commercial entity. They also have affirmed that this activity includes no discussion of investigational or unlabeled use of products.