Research on prevalence of secondary conditions in individuals with disabilities: an overview

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Individuals with disabilities may be at increased risk of a number of secondary conditions. Secondary conditions influence health status and quality of life. Many of these conditions are preventable and their consequences can be managed. Knowledge of the prevalence, course, and association with age of secondary conditions is needed for better prevention and management. The aim of present study was to review the available literature on the prevalence of secondary conditions in individuals with disability. We performed searches of electronic databases for studies published between 1980 and 2017 that provided information on the prevalence of secondary conditions in individuals with disabilities. The reference list of all relevant citations was also reviewed for further material. Nineteen papers were included. The findings indicate that (i) studies were mainly population-based descriptive studies, (ii) researchers used different questionnaires, (iii) the most common studied population are patients with spinal cord injury, and (iv) even though secondary conditions are different in different patient populations, the main secondary conditions are pain, spasticity, urinary tract infections, fatigue, depression, and sleep problems. The prevalence of each condition varies widely depending on the studied population and research methodologies across studies. There is still much information that remains to be obtained on the prevalence, definition, and conceptual organization of secondary conditions. There is also a lack of longitudinal studies on the natural course of these conditions.

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