Prevalence of disability among students in US medical schools

December 06, 2016

New research has identified a higher prevalence of disability among students in U.S. allopathic medical schools (2.7 percent) than prior studies (0.3 percent to 0.6 percent), according to a study appearing in the December 6 issue of JAMA, a medical education theme issue.

Studying the performance of medical students with disabilities requires a better understanding of the prevalence and categories of disabilities represented. It remains unclear how many medical students have disabilities; prior estimates are out-of-date and psychological, learning, and chronic health disabilities have not been evaluated. For this study, Lisa M. Meeks, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and Kurt R. Herzer, Ph.D., M.Sc., of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, assessed the prevalence of all disabilities and the accommodations in use at allopathic medical schools in the United States.

From December 2014 through February 2016, an electronic, web-based survey was sent to institutionally designated disability administrators at eligible allopathic medical schools who have a federally mandated duty to assist qualified students with disabilities. The survey was designed by experts in medical school disability administration based on provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and prior research. The survey assessed the following domains: (1) total number of self-disclosed or registered students with disabilities receiving accommodations, (2) demographic characteristics of students with disabilities, (3) categories of disabilities, and (4) approved accommodations.

One hundred forty-five schools were identified; 12 were excluded. Of the 133 eligible schools, 91 completed the survey (68 percent) and 89 reported complete data and were included in the analysis. Respondents identified 1,547 students with disabilities (43 percent male), representing 2.7 percent of the total enrollment and ranging from 0 percent to 12 percent. Of these students, 98 percent received accommodations. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was the most common disability (34 percent), followed by learning disabilities (22 percent) and psychological disabilities (20 percent). Mobility and sensory disabilities were less common. School-based testing accommodations were most frequently used (98 percent); clinical accommodations were less frequently used.

"These results underscore the limitations of studying isolated subtypes of disabilities (i.e., only mobility impairments), which may underestimate this population. The preponderance of students with ADHD, learning disabilities, and psychological disabilities suggests that these disability subtypes should be included in future research efforts, such as studies assessing the performance of appropriately accommodated students," the authors write.
-end-
(doi:10.1001/jama.2016.10544; the study is available pre-embargo at the For the Media website)

Editor's Note: This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences' Medical Scientist Training Program and from the National Institute on Aging. Both authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.

To place an electronic embedded link to this study in your story This link will be live at the embargo time: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/10.1001/jama.2016.10544

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Learning Articles from Brightsurf:

Learning the language of sugars
We're told not to eat too much sugar, but in reality, all of our cells are covered in sugar molecules called glycans.

When learning on your own is not enough
We make decisions based on not only our own learning experience, but also learning from others.

Learning more about particle collisions with machine learning
A team of Argonne scientists has devised a machine learning algorithm that calculates, with low computational time, how the ATLAS detector in the Large Hadron Collider would respond to the ten times more data expected with a planned upgrade in 2027.

Getting kids moving, and learning
Children are set to move more, improve their skills, and come up with their own creative tennis games with the launch of HomeCourtTennis, a new initiative to assist teachers and coaches with keeping kids active while at home.

How expectations influence learning
During learning, the brain is a prediction engine that continually makes theories about our environment and accurately registers whether an assumption is true or not.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Learning is optimized when we fail 15% of the time
If you're always scoring 100%, you're probably not learning anything new.

School spending cuts triggered by great recession linked to sizable learning losses for learning losses for students in hardest hit areas
Substantial school spending cuts triggered by the Great Recession were associated with sizable losses in academic achievement for students living in counties most affected by the economic downturn, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Lessons in learning
A new Harvard study shows that, though students felt like they learned more from traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms.

Learning to look
A team led by JGI scientists has overhauled the perception of inovirus diversity.

Read More: Learning News and Learning Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.