Perspectives of Patients with Diverse Disabilities Regarding Healthcare Accommodations to Promote Healthcare Equity: a Qualitative Study

Megan A. Morris, Alicia A. Wong, Brooke Dorsey Holliman, Juliette Liesinger, Joan M. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patients with disabilities often require healthcare accommodations in order to access high-quality, equitable healthcare services. While attention has been paid to accommodation needs in specific disability populations, limited research to date has explored healthcare accommodations that cross-cut diverse disability populations. Objective: To identify a deeper understanding regarding accommodations in healthcare settings that could apply across disability populations and promote equitable healthcare. Design: We conducted qualitative focus groups with patients with disabilities and caregivers to understand their experiences and preferences for healthcare accommodations. Participants: We recruited patients and caregivers across all major disability categories to participate in focus groups. Participants were recruited through advocacy organizations and healthcare settings in Southeastern Minnesota. Approach: A total of eight focus groups were conducted with 56 participants. Participants described their healthcare experiences and desires for healthcare accommodations. The multidisciplinary research team recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded all focus groups. The team thematically coded transcripts using content analysis within and across focus groups to identify major themes. Key Results: Patients identified four challenges and corresponding steps healthcare team could take to promote equitable care: (1) consistent documentation of disabilities and needed accommodations in the medical record; (2) allowance for accommodations to the environment, including adapting physical space, physical structures, and scheduling and rooming processes; (3) provide accommodations for administrative tasks, such as completing paper or electronic forms; and (4) adapt communication during interactions, such as speaking slower or using terms that patients can easily understand. Conclusion: These identified themes represent specific opportunities for healthcare teams to effectively provide accessible care to patients with disabilities. Many of the accommodations require minimal financial investment, but did require behavioral changes by the healthcare team to ensure equitable healthcare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2370-2377
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • disability
  • equity
  • healthcare services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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