Background: More attention and understanding of the health and participation problems of adults with early and later onset disabilities in the Netherlands is needed.
Objective: To explore health/participation problems and unmet needs in adults aged ≥40 years with long-term disabilities and their relationship with the time of onset.
Methods: Participants were recruited in the Netherlands through newsletters and social media to participate in a web-based questionnaire. The questionnaire assessed background characteristics, (change in) health/participation problems, and unmet needs. Spearman's rho was used to examine the relationships with time of onset.
Results: Of the 163 survey respondents, 42% acquired their disability before age 25 years and reported fatigue (77%), walking problems (66%), and pain (59%). In 21% of the respondents with early-onset disability fatigue, pain and depressive feelings co-occurred. Early-onset disability correlated with joint deformities, pain and anxiety. Participation problems included loss of income and fewer social activities. Early-onset correlated with the need for more information about diagnosis and prognosis.
Conclusions: People aged over 40 years with long-term disability have significant and increasing health and participation problems. Adults with early-onset disability are more likely to have health or participation problems than adults with late-onset disability. Early identification is needed for preventive care and access to specialized services that focus on improving and maintaining physical symptoms, energy management, and participation.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Aging, Health problems, Long-term disability, Participation
Persistent URL,
Journal Disability and Health Journal
Hilberink, S.R, van der Slot, W.M.A, & Klem, M. (Martijn). (2017). Health and participation problems in older adults with long-term disability. Disability and Health Journal. doi:10.1016/j.dhjo.2016.12.004