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2016 to 2019 Saw Increase in Medical Students With Disabilities

Increases seen in psychological disabilities, chronic health conditions

MONDAY, Dec. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- From 2016 to 2019, there was an increase in the proportion of medical students reporting disabilities, according to a research letter published in the Nov. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lisa M. Meeks, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues administered a web-based survey to disability professionals at eligible U.S. medical schools to assess the prevalence of students with disabilities. A total of 87 U.S. allopathic schools completed the survey in 2019; results were compared to those from 2016.

The researchers found that respondents from the 87 participating schools reported 2,600 students with disabilities in 2019, representing 4.6 percent of the total enrollment of 56,217 students. The most frequently reported disabilities were psychological disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and chronic health disabilities. Overall, 93.3 percent of these students received accommodations. Of the 64 schools that responded in 2016 and 2019, there was an increase in the total number of students reporting disabilities, from 1,142 to 2,028 (2.7 to 4.6 percent; relative increase, 69 percent). Increases were seen in psychological disabilities (from 20.4 to 32.3 percent) and chronic health conditions (from 13.3 to 18.0 percent). There was a decrease noted in learning disabilities (from 21.4 to 18.3 percent).

"Although an increase in disability was observed, these data do not provide information about the culture that these students experience or their retention in the training and career pipeline," the authors write.

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