Institute on Disability

Trips to medical care for persons with disabilities: Evidence from the National Household Travel Survey

Debra L. Brucker, University of New Hampshire, Durham
Nicholas G. Rollins, University of New Hampshire, Durham


Background: Persons with disabilities experience multiple barriers to obtaining necessary medical care. Problems with access to transportation and provider choice could lead to longer travel distances and longer travel times to medical appointments.

Objective/hypothesis: 1) Persons with disabilities travel further distances to receive necessary care, holding other variables constant. 2) Travel to medical appointments takes a longer amount of time for persons with disabilities, controlling for distance, mode of transportation and other factors. 3) Disability is the key factor influencing access to transportation options, holding other variables constant.

Methods: The 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) is used to examine travel patterns of persons with disabilities as they access medical care. Logistic regressions are run on distance to medical appointments, time taken for travel to medical appointments, and access to private vehicle.

Results: There is no difference in the distance traveled, but trips to medical care by persons with disabilities take longer amounts of time than trips taken by persons without disabilities, holding other variables constant. Access to private transportation is similar for both persons with and without disabilities.

Conclusions: Persons with disabilities experience longer travel times to receive medical care, despite traveling similar distances and having similar access to private vehicles.