Massachusetts Office on Health and Disability

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Project Synopsis 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Office on Health and Disability has been a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grantee since 1989, allowing the state to be a leader in the improvement of health and well-being of people with disabilities through policy and system changes. Initial efforts included collecting and analyzing data to determine the prevalence of disability and secondary conditions among people with mobility and personal care limitations. Nearly a decade later, the Massachusetts Plan for Promoting the Health of People with Disabilities 2007-2012 continues to build on past initiatives and accomplishments through expanding the capacity of the state to address the health needs of people with disabilities with specific focus on the following goals:

•·Include people with disabilities in health promotion opportunities for managing health,  preventing secondary conditions and experiencing improved health status

•·Create policy and systems changes to increase access to preventative health services and facilities

•·Define the impact of disability in MA, including the impact of secondary conditions across the life-span

•·Represent adults with disabilities in strategic planning for emergency preparedness

•·Implement and promote the Stanford University Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) through various statewide disability consumer agencies in order to improve health and mitigate secondary conditions.


Health Planning & Policy

•·Implemented a policy that requires grantees and contractor facilities to be ADA compliant. That initiative included the creation of the Massachusetts Facility Assessment Tool (MFAT) for agencies, organizations, healthcare providers and other programs whose services or activities are under contract with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and/or the Federal government.  The MFAT includes all relevant standards necessary to adequately assess facility accessibility with illustrations and simple measurement guidance to clarify what to assess and how it should be assessed as well as specific instructions for documenting findings.

•· Increased the accessibility of mammography and substance abuse facilities in Massachusetts.

•·Examined barriers and facilitators to successful transition from adult to senior services using facilitated discussion using group and key informant interviews.

Health Promotion (Intervention, Outreach, Training, Communication)

•·Promotion and implementation of the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, especially in underserved community residential and non-residential settings. Expansion of the program has been successful through increasing the number of trained group leaders.

•·Included a special education teacher identifier to the tracking form for the Healthy Choices middle schools / Eat Well elementary schools program which incorporates the message of 5 or more fruits and vegetables, 2 hrs or less screen time, 1 hr physical activity, participate in before or after school program.

•·Targeted people with disabilities in the MDPH- Tobacco Quitworks Program, an evidence based stop smoking service.

Health Assessment & Surveillance

•·Increased number of surveillance systems which include disability screens across the department.

•·Increased BRFSS sample size to help identify a cohort for disability follow-up interviews.

•·Reports include:  A Profile of Health Among Persons with Disabilities in Massachusetts, 2005-07 (BRFSS), as well as results from a survey of adults with disabilities and their caregivers conducted to assess the need for home and community based services for people with disabilities in Massachusetts.

Selected Publications and Presentations


•·A Profile of Health Among Persons with Disabilities in Massachusetts, 2005-07: Results from   the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 

•· Study of Unmet Needs of Adults with Disabilities in Massachusetts, 2007

•· Unmet Needs of Adults with Disabilities in Massachusetts-Interviews with Caretakers, 2007

•· Office on Health and Disability. Massachusetts Department of Public Health Americans with Disabilities Act compliance project: overview and materials. Boston (Massachusetts): Massachusetts Department of Public Health; 2002 Sep. [Award not cited e-copy]

Planning Accessible Meetings and Events

Accessible Print Materials - Formatting Guidelines to Accommodate All Audiences


•· Mitra M, Wilber N, Allen D, Walker DK. Prevalence and correlates of depression as a secondary condition among adults with disabilities. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2005 Jan;75(1):76-85. [U59/CCU103370 e-copy]

•·Wilber N, Mitra M, Walker DK, Allen D, Meyers AR, Tupper P. Disability as a public health issue: findings and reflections from the Massachusetts survey of secondary conditions. Milbank Q. 2002;80(2):393-421. [U59/CCU103370 e-copy]

•·Brawarsky P, Brooks DR, Wilbur N, Gertz RE, Walker DK. Tobacco use among adults with disabilities in Massachusetts. Tob Control. 2002 Jun;11(Suppl II):ii29-33. [U59/CCU103370 e-copy]

•·Andresen EM, Fitch CA, McLendon PM, Meyers AR. Reliability and validity of disability questions for US Census 2000. Am J Public Health. 2000 Aug;90(8):1297-9. [U59/CCU103370 e-copy]