Assistive technology and veterans with severe disabilities: examining the relationships among race, personal factors, medical support, income support, and use.

Research paper by Reginald R Alston, Allen A Lewis, Shondra S Loggins

Indexed on: 13 Sep '14Published on: 13 Sep '14Published in: Medical care


Examine the relationship among assistive technology (AT), race, and other demographic characteristics (eg, sex, educational attainment, and employment status), medical coverage, as well as government support for veterans with severe disabilities.Data were analyzed from the Rehabilitation Services Administration-911 dataset collected in the United States in 2012. Descriptive and multivariate analyses were performed.Among veterans with severe disabilities, factors that increased AT usage for European Americans (EAs) and African Americans (AAs) were employment, medical coverage (eg, access to private insurance and Medicare), government support (eg, Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Income), and having a sensory type of disability. Having a mental disability was associated with decreased use of AT for EAs and AAs. Whereas EAs) had more factors associated with a decreased likelihood of using AT, AAs had more factors associated with an increased likelihood. For EA veterans with severe disabilities, receiving Medicaid, veteran benefits, and Workers' Compensation were associated with a decreased likelihood of using AT. AA veterans with severe disabilities were 60% less likely to use AT compared with EAs.Racial differences between AAs and EAs were observed in the use of AT by veterans with severe disabilities based on sex, education, employment status, medical coverage, and government support. AAs were generally less likely to use AT; however, greater exposure to resources such as employment, insurance, and government income support partially explained the differential AT use between EAs and AAs. Future policies and research should address these racial disparities in veterans with severe disabilities to promote equitable AT use and healthy functioning.