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



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.


To identify a deeper understanding regarding accommodations in healthcare settings that could apply across disability populations and promote equitable healthcare.


We conducted qualitative focus groups with patients with disabilities and caregivers to understand their experiences and preferences for healthcare accommodations.


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.


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.


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.

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The study was funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, and the Mayo Clinic’s Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Healthcare Delivery.

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Correspondence to Megan A. Morris PhD, MPH.

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Morris, M.A., Wong, A.A., Dorsey Holliman, B. et al. Perspectives of Patients with Diverse Disabilities Regarding Healthcare Accommodations to Promote Healthcare Equity: a Qualitative Study. J GEN INTERN MED (2021).

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  • disability
  • equity
  • healthcare services