CDC Report: One in Five Adult Kansans Has a Disability

Aug 6, 2015

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

From the Kansas Health Institute

One of every five Kansas adults has at least one disability, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Kansas, difficulty walking was the most common disability (13 percent), followed by cognitive impairment (9 percent); inability to live alone due to physical, mental or emotional conditions (5 percent); difficulty bathing or dressing (3 percent), and seriously impaired vision (3 percent).

Download the CDC Report on Disabilities Among U.S. Adults in 2013 (pages

Minnesota had the fewest adults with at least one disability, at 16 percent, while Alabama had the most, at 32 percent. Kansas was near the middle at 20 percent.

The report was based on data gathered in 2013 during a CDC-sponsored telephone survey that involved roughly 465,000 respondents nationwide, including nearly 22,800 from Kansas.

The calls were limited to adults who were not living in institutional settings such as nursing homes. Respondents were not asked if they were deaf or hearing impaired.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Southern states tend to have the highest percentages of people with disabilities.
  • Women tend to have more disabilities than men.
  • The two most frequently cited causes of immobility were arthritis and “back and spine problems.”
  • Almost 50 percent of adults living in households with annual incomes of less than $15,000 have a disability.
  • Nearly 40 percent of adults who did not complete high school have a disability.

Though previous surveys have gathered data on disabilities, this was the first year that the survey, officially known as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), included questions to categorize disability.

“This is important information,” said Martha Hodgesmith, associate director of the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas. “For years, advocates for people with disabilities have been wanting to get finer-grain information from BRFSS, which is what we’re seeing now.”

The nonprofit KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor reporting collaboration. All stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to when a story is reposted online.

Note for High Plains Readers: Texas is in the middle of the pack, with 22 percent. Colorado falls close to the bottom, with 18 percent, while Oklahoma is near the top with 28 percent of residents reporting a disability.