Psychosocial Aspects of Chronic Illness and Disability among African Americans

By Faye Z. Belgrave | Go to book overview

1
Disability and Chronic Illness Among African Americans: An Overview

About 35 million Americans (about one in seven) have a disabling condition that affects functioning in activities of daily living ( Institute of Medicine [IOM], 1991). About 9 million Americans are prevented from working, attending school, or maintaining a household because of a physical or mental condition. These figures reflect the certainty that disability affects every individual and family within communities, work environments, schools, and other institutions in this country. In spite of the high prevalence and incidence of disability in this country, relatively little has been written about African Americans with disabilities.

Disability and chronic illness have enormous health, social, economic, vocational, educational, and psychological consequences for everyone. This is especially true for African Americans. Often well-being and quality of life for these Americans are compromised by a disability or chronic illness. However, chronic illness and disability do not have to be associated with negative outcomes. Suggestions and recommendations for improving the well-being of African Americans with disabilities and chronic illnesses are offered throughout.


DEFINITIONS

Chronic illnesses are typically diseases that cannot be cured but can be managed by the individual. The prevalence of chronic diseases (e.g.,

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