Improving healthcare for people with disabilities

Do people with disabilities receive the same quality of healthcare as people without disabilities? The answer is “no,” says Kenneth Robey, Ph.D., director of the Matheny Institute for Research.

The reason, says Dr. Robey, at left, is simply lack of training. “Programs at medical schools, nursing schools, dental schools and pharmacy schools have done very little to prepare primary care professionals to serve people with disabilities,” he explains.

Third-year medical students at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School currently rotate through Matheny in an attempt to educate future doctors about how to provide this care. But Matheny realizes this isn’t enough. In 2007, Dr. Robey and Gary E. Eddey, M.D., Matheny’s chief medical officer, began exploring what else was being done around the country. That eventually resulted in the formation of the Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education, which has already raised visibility about this issue.

A major goal of the organization, according to Dr. Robey, who served as president in 2010 and 2011, is to develop “a list of things that healthcare professionals need to know or be able to do that works across all disciplines and disabilities.” A long-term goal, which Dr. Robey admits is a stretch, “is to ensure that every medical school, nursing school and medical training program in the United States has some component to address disability-specific issues.”

For more information on this subject, log onto, click on “All News” and look for “Preparing Healthcare Professionals to Better Serve People with Disabilities.”