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Health Practitioner Practice: Disability Research Paper

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Updated: May 19th, 2022

Systematic Literature Review


Disability is a general term that can be used to refer to set of conditions that inhibit individuals in their daily activities (Tracy 2011, p.181). However, there is extent at which such conditions may affect an individual. It is imperative to note that the level of disability varies from one person to another. Moreover, conditions of disability vary in degree namely from mild to severe (Anon 2011, p.12). Examples of mild disability are poor eyesight and deafness (Spitzer 2011, p.8). On the other hand, severe cases of disability involve brain damage, degeneration or breakdown of nerves (Ng, Talman & Khan 2011, p.151). People with disability gain assistance from family members and friends. Besides, governments in various states avail specific resources that directly or indirectly benefit individuals with physical challenges. This paper aims at examining disability trend in Australia in terms of prevalence, livelihoods, education and economic participation of people with disabilities.

Are there any specific trends between prevalence of disability and various population brackets?


This research study aims at exploring the link between disability and some of the factors that affect it. Of great importance in this theoretical study is the impact of aging as well as some of the prevalent factors that affect their condition. Additionally, both economic and educational participation will be discussed in this paper. The paper will also lay more emphasis on the nature of livelihood of people living with various forms of disability.

As part of achieving rigorous data analysis, diversity of study types was essential in this study. As such, myriad of resources from multiple geographical locations such as Australia, United States, UK as well as Sweden were used. To obtain a balanced approach to the study on disability, global linking of independent studies was used.

An empirical survey conducted by the Australian Statistical Bureau on the prevalence of disability revealed that over 20% of the population has myriad forms of disabilities (AIHW 2008, p.4). Quantitatively, those who are between the ages of 5-65 years is prevalent to physical challenges ranging from mild to severe states of disabilities (AIHW 2008 p. 4). However out of the proportion, 21% with mild cases had access to daily activities without any difficulty. Contrastingly, those with severe cases of disability are restricted to performing daily tasks such as schooling, self care and working. Moreover, severe impairments prohibit them from crucial functions of the body such as locomotion, communication and self-care services. From the previous survey, it is evident that the rate of prevalence has decimated with a difference of 1.8% from the previous rate (AIHW 2008, p. 5).

Nevertheless, life expectancy of people with disabilities was noted to increase eminently and preferably those with mild challenges. For instance, it has been noted that males have gained higher life expectancy over the past 15 years. According to statistical evidence derived from current survey, the life expectancy in men has increased from 3 to 6 years while that of females has risen from 6-8 years (AIHW 2008, p. 4). In line with this, it is factual that females have higher life expectancy than males with disabilities.

Prevalence of disability

Meanwhile, there have been notable predisposing factors that make individuals more susceptible to several forms disability (Anon 2011 p. 12). For instance, it has been revealed that age is one of the factors that can increase or decimate chances of developing disabilities. In this case, aged people are more susceptible to disabilities as opposed to young ones. Factually, young people from 4-35 years were less in number in comparison to those with disabilities at age 45-69 years (AIHW 2008, p. 4). Comparatively, statistical analysis of people with disabilities in Australia illustrated that only 3.4% of younger people got impaired as opposed to the aged (AIHW 2008, p 6). Contrastingly, though children at age 1-15 years are young people, the rate of disability was found to increase substantially. This was attributed to health challenges linked with childhood such as autism. These challenges highly contributed to rising of deformities that developed to become severe or mild disorders.

Besides this, sex is a significance factor that resulted to difference in prevalence of disability between male and females. Ultimately, the number of males with disability was twice that of females (AIHW 2008, p. 6). However, it was observed that though the proportion of disability was higher in males, females at older age were more prone to similar challenges than men. In this case, the issues of sex and age have opposing effects when it comes to considering the susceptibility rate. Vividly, it is worth noting that the level of disability varies due to differences in terms of geographical location. For example, when a sample population was examined in 2003 it was revealed that, natives in Australia were less susceptible to disability than immigrants from Europe (AIHW 2008, p. 8). Significantly, researchers have ranked Australia to have the lowest prevalence of disability among western world states like Italy, New Zealand and Greece (AIHW, 2008, p.10). Additionally, the variability in terms of remoteness is a factor that can influence prevalence of disability. For instance, people in remote areas of the country are less vulnerable to disability than those in the outer-exposed areas (Southgate 2011, p.197). In line with this, people in major cities were highly inclined to physical impairment as opposed to those in outer parts of the country.

Search strategy

A total of fifteen credible and peer reviewed journals were used to obtain data in regard to research question. To obtain the most appropriate and up to date information on disability, the following key search items were employed:

  • Disability
  • Aging and disability
  • Economic impacts of disability
  • Educational impacts
  • Global comparisons on disability

Various databases were used to search the most accurate sources of information from journals. Some of these databases included SpringerLink, Proquest, Emerald as well as Science Direct. A total of 45 results on disability were rendered by Proquest while Science direct yielded 15 results only. The search term was further reduced in terms of length to causes of disability. Consequently, Google Scholar produced more than 25,000 ‘hits’. Out of all these databases, only the most suitable, latest and up to date journal resources were selected for use.

Selection criteria

Out of the total number of articles obtained, the process of critical analysis led to inclusion of 15 articles which were considered to be more relevant to the study. One way that was used to identify relevant articles was through reading of their abstracts. In addition, selection criteria were also based on consideration of articles that would specifically answer the research question.

Economic participation

Most people with physical challenges are normally discouraged to participate in economic activities equally with the non-challenged (Connell, King & Crowe 2011, p.59). This has resulted to their economic needs being unmet thus causing significant shortcomings in their livelihoods. Recently, survey was done that revealed of the challenges facing people with impairments. Such include unemployment and under employment (Connell, King & Crowe 2011, p.59). For instance, it is vivid that the physically impaired people are often discriminated and curtailed to participate in labor force. The number of unchallenged people outnumbers the impaired ones in terms of securing employment opportunities (Oguzoglu 2011, p.370). Rise of unemployment rate among people with challenges has increased due to number of individuals participating in the labor force. Nonetheless, with the integration of schooling opportunities, there has been a subsequent decline of unemployment rate (Southgate 2011, p.194). This has led to growth and enactment of equal roles in the labor force. Moreover, the number of people with disabilities has increased in private work force as opposed to the case in government sectors. Putting this into account, this has resulted to increase of people with disabilities in the labor force (AIHW 2008 p. 22).

Additionally, people with disabilities have been assisted in one way or the other by the government to access open service provision opportunities (Oguzoglu 2011, p.370). For example, through the disability network, impaired people in Australia have attained employment opportunities. In line with this, the network has also assisted those already employed to secure their positions in the labor force. Increased support in the open service system has helped them to become financially able thus catering for their basic amenities (Connell, King & Crowe 2011 p. 59).

It is imperative to note that several acts of human rights have been established in Australia to protect disabled people from discrimination (Anon 2011 p. 12). For example, the 1992 act prohibits illegal discrimination of physically challenged individuals thus fostering equal participation on matters regarding economy of a country (AIHW 2008 p. 4). Moreover, the Australian commission of human right takes the initiative to respond to complains made against discrimination. In line with this, myriad operations are conducted through organizations to assist victims in knowing and understanding their legal rights (AIHW 2008 p.28). Additionally, the government of Australia can support those non-governmental organizations that make plans regarding the disabled people. Public enquiries are being made resulting to execution of standards and guidelines of reaching out to help the challenged people in the community (AIHW 2008 p.30).

Educational participation

Students with mild disabilities normally ordinarily attend schools in Australia. To emphasize on this, there has been reduction on the number of student with disability according to the survey conducted in 2003 (AIHW 2008 p.18). According to research evidences, students with disabilities have been compelled to attend regular activities in schools thus forced to pursue their education in special schools (Cassar & Jang,2010, p.193). However, survey records indicate that children with mild disabilities are ready to commence learning at age of 5-6 years (Prior, Bavin & Ong 2011 p.3). It is important to note that this phenomenon has called for an increase in educational services for the students with disabilities in Australia. In this case, this has ensured successful transition of the physically challenged people from school life to adult-hood experiences (Cassar & Jang 2010, p.193). Moreover, through improved educational participation in the society, this has resulted to rise of opportunities in post-schools, employment, social and economic activities (Polidano & Mavromaras 2011p.137). The commission for human rights has made significant strides to ensure that people with disabilities achieve equal participation opportunities in educations just like their counterparts. This has enabled them to access even higher level of education within the institutions in Australia such as universities and colleges (Polidano & Mavromaras 2011, p.137).

Moreover, there have been notable changes in schools and classes to facilitate learning for both individuals with mild and severe disabilities (Cassar & Jang, 2010 p.193). However, learners with mild challenges still attend ordinary schools as opposed to those with severe disorders. Besides, policies have been made to integrate learners with challenges in numerous schools to learn (Polidano & Mavromaras 2011, p. 137). Vital adjustments have been made to enhance an inclusive participation in education as it is indicated in the discrimination act 1992 (AIHW 2008 p. 24). However, there is still need for the government to establish more assistance services that will successfully support participation of people with disability in education.

Livelihood of people with disabilities

Individuals with disability receive care and nourishment from families and custodians ered to avail range of services that will help disabled people in their livelihoods (Stilwell 2011p 159). It is evident that, physically challenged individuals encounter numerous challenges in life. For this reason they require support either directly or indirectly (Battams & Baum 2010 p.1026). It is important to note that, lives of disabled people in Australia has been made easier as a result of combined efforts from the government, community and private institutions (Stilwell 2011p. 160). In this case, these groups have come up with mainstream programs that are specifically meant to support the physically challenged people (Kirby 2011, p.388). In addition to this, people with profound disabilities receive nourishment and self-care from family members and relatives (Fisher & Purcal 2010 p. 540). However, positive measures have been taken by the community to help physically challenged people in overcoming specific limitations (Stilwell 2011p 161). Such limitations include inability to access schooling and employment opportunities. Like it was mentioned earlier in this paper all these restrictions have been eradicated through establishing vital facilities (Tracy 2011, p.81). For instance, special schools have helped to solve some of the challenges faced by people with disabilities in ordinary classrooms. Eventually, major shortcomings have been eradicated making the livelihoods of physically challenged people to become bearable (Anon 2011, p. 12).

Summary of findings

To recap it all, disability is a state in which individual body organs are unable to function properly. The condition varies from mild to severe thus restricting the victim from performing certain tasks. Certain factors are inclined to disability. These include age, sex, remoteness and geographical location. Due to these prevalent factors, individuals are susceptible to disabilities in diverse ways. For instance, varying challenges are experienced among the physically challenged people such as unemployment, health complication and poor performance in various aspects of life. It is important to emphasize that the trend of disability in Australia is declining gradually as it is evident from the survey results. Moreover, there is increased participation among people with disabilities in all aspects of life such as economic growth, education and labor force. The government of Australia has put in place myriad of efforts to safeguard people with disabilities from discrimination. In collaboration with private and other communal organizations, myriad mainstream programs have been established to support people with physical challenges. In this case, a positive trend has been noted especially with the integration of schooling programs. This has increased the chances for people with challenges to cope and compete with those who are unimpaired.


Anon, 2011, In Brief. Australian Nursing Journal, vol18, no. 11, p. 12

AIHW, 2008, Disability in Australia: trends in prevalence, education, employment and community living [Online]. Web.

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