Introduction Chronic diseases were studied to cause lifelong disability, but no focus was made to find out whether disabled by other causes were predisposed to develop chronic diseases due to their disability. The objective of this study was to explore the association between physical disability and the chances of developing non-communicable diseases (NCD).
Methodology A retrospective cohort study done in the year 2008 in South Kerala, India. The physically disabled were identified from a baseline health survey done in 2005–2006 which identified 283 households with disability. A total of 125 individuals having physical disability for more than 5 years were compared with 125 age and sex matched individuals with no disability selected from the neighbourhoods. Data were collected using WHO STEPS questionnaire for NCD surveillance and disability was assessed using Indian HAQ version (Health Assessment Questionnaire). Bivariate and multivariate analyses were done.
Results NCD risk factor prevalence among disabled was higher for hypertension (43.2%), alcohol use (12%), tobacco use (20.8%), Obesity (33.6%) and lack of physical activity (89.6%). Significant difference from the comparison group were found only for Hypertension with a RR of 1.32 (1.04–1.6) and lack of physical activity 5.01 (2.54–9.8). After logistic regression analysis, the physically disabled were found to have NCD risk factors such as lack of physical activity [OR 3.94, 95% CI (1.9 to 8.18)] and hypertension [OR 1.76, 95% CI (1 to 3.13)].
Conclusion Hypertension screening for the physically disabled could help in early identification and treatment. Disabled friendly initiatives for promoting physical activity should be a part of NCD prevention interventions.
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