Methods: Washington State-Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (WA-BRFSS) data were analyzed in this study (N=37,841). BRFSS is an annual population-based telephone survey study designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate health conditions and behaviors of US adult residents aged 18 or older. We analyzed merged WA-BRFSS data collected from 2003 to 2009 since several key variables of interest for this study were not asked every year. We stratified our sample (age between 18 and 60) into three groups including childrearing women with disabilities, women with disabilities not living with children, and childrearing women without disabilities. Multiple adjusted logistic regression analyses were conducted to compare prevalence of health indicators for childrearing women with disabilities with other two groups. We controlled for socio-demographic characteristics (i.e., age, education, income, and marital status).
Results: The weighted percentages of the three groups within our sample were respectively 9%, 12%, and 45%. Childrearing women with disabilities were more likely to have financial barriers to health services than women with disabilities not living with children (AOR=0.46; p<.001). In terms of health behaviors, childrearing women with disabilities showed higher prevalence of smoking (AOR=0.47; p<.001) and lack of exercise (AOR=0.64; p<.001) when compared to childrearing women without disabilities. In addition, childrearing women with disabilities showed heightened risks of poor health status compared to childrearing women without disabilities; higher prevalence of poor general health (AOR=0.15; p<.001), frequent mental distress (AOR=0.25; p<.001), and frequent poor physical health (AOR=0.11; p<.001). Childrearing women with disabilities were more likely to report lack of social support (AOR=0.47; p<.001) and life dissatisfaction (AOR=0.20; p<.001) when compared to childrearing women without disabilities.
Implications: Findings underscore the need for social work practices to increase health care access, improve health status, and provide social and emotional supports for childrearing women with disabilities who have been doubly disadvantaged with two life challenges: being a mother in addition to being a disabled. Findings also indicate the need for future research investigating the factors that might have influences on health disparities of childrearing women with disabilities.