RTC:Rural paper on health status and disability receives NARRTC Best Paper Award

November 24, 2020

RTC:Rural researchers Andrew Myers, Bryce Ward, and Craig Ravesloot, along with former RTC:Rural researcher Jennifer Wong, were awarded the 2020 NARRTC Best Paper Award for their Social Science & Medicine article “Health status changes with transitory disability over time.”

“It is a real honor to be recognized by such an esteemed group of researchers,” said Andrew Myers, RTC:Rural Project Director and lead author on the paper.

NARRTC presents the award annually to showcase the work of National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) grantees. Winners are announced during the awards ceremony at the annual NARRTC conference, which was held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The winning paper builds upon previous RTC:Rural research by examining how changes in self-reported disability status are related to changes in self-reported health status. (See “RTC:Rural researchers publish paper on health status and transitory disability” for a summary of the paper). It was published in the January 2020 issue of Social Science & Medicine, and was available online in October 2019.

Previous RTC:Rural research found that some respondents change their answers to  survey questions used by various U.S. federal agencies to identify people with disabilities. These changing answers mean that, instead of only identifying people with long-term, or enduring, disabilities, the questions are also identifying another group of people—those who move in and out of disability, or people experiencing transitory disability.

“In other words, disability status isn’t as stable as we thought. For some individuals, it actually changes quite a bit over time,” said Myers. “This is important because those who experience a transitory disability may need different supports than those with a more enduring disability.”

The recent paper finds that people who experience transitory disability (who change their answers to the disability questions) also change how they report their health status and use of mobility equipment. “We found that health status changes with disability status, which suggests that these are real changes that these folks are experiencing, not just measurement error,” said Myers.  

These findings, which build upon findings from previous RTC:Rural papers, have implications for how the data gathered using the widely used six-question disability measure.

“How we define disability and how we identify individuals who experience disability is important because it guides policies, funding, and services that are meant to serve people with disabilities,” said Myers.


More information

Read the paper online: Health status changes with transitory disability

See past NARRTC Best Paper Awards here: https://narrtc.org/narrtc-past-best-paper-awards/