Disability Experience and Measurement

J Aging Health. 2016 Oct;28(7):1124-58. doi: 10.1177/0898264316656519.


Top themes of international research on disability in the past three decades are discussed: disability dynamics, buffers and barriers for disability, disability trends, and disability among very old persons. Each theme is highlighted by research examples. Turning to measurement, I discuss traditional measures of disability, new longer and shorter ones, and composites like disability-free life expectancy, noting their merits. Contemporary models of disability are presented, ranging from visual images to formal theories. The article ends on how scientists can facilitate movement of disability science into health care practice and policy.

Keywords: disability; disability measurement; disability models.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Biomedical Research / trends
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environment Design
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy / trends*
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Self-Help Devices