Disability-specific associations with child health and functioning

Ko Ling Chan, Camilla K.M. Lo, Frederick K. Ho, Patrick Ip

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10 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the health profile of children with different types of disabilities and explored the disability-specific associations with various types of health and functioning using a large nonclinical sample of children. A cross-sectional school survey was conducted during 2016 and 2017. A total of 4114 children (aged 6–18 years) receiving primary or secondary education, or their proxy, in Hong Kong participated in the study. Disabilities were categorized as (a) physical disabilities; (b) learning and developmental disabilities; (c) intellectual disabilities; (d) internalizing disorders or mental illness; and (e) autism spectrum disorder. Health-related quality of life (QoL), sleep-related QoL, activities of daily living (ADL), emotional functioning, and social functioning were assessed and compared between children with disabilities and those without. The results showed that children with disabilities showed poorer physical functioning, health-related QoL, and emotional and social functioning than their counterparts without disabilities. Disability-specific associations with health were found: (a) physical disabilities and intellectual disabilities were associated with greater difficulties in ADL; (b) language impairment and Attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were negatively associated with sleep-related QoL; (c) all types of disabilities but hearing impairment were negatively associated with health-related QoL (HRQoL); and (d) language impairment, ADHD, internalizing disorder, as well as autism spectrum disorder were associated with greater abnormal behavioral difficulties. The findings warrant the development of tailor-made intervention programs and give insights to effective resource allocation for the children in need.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1024
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 2

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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