HealthDay News — Many physicians have negative attitudes about patients with disability, with just over half strongly agreeing that they welcome patients with disability into their practices, according to a report published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

Lisa I. Iezzoni, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues surveyed 714 practicing U.S. physicians nationwide to examine the potential contribution of physicians’ perceptions of people with disability to health care disparities.

The researchers found that 82.4 percent of the physicians reported that people with significant disability have worse quality of life than nondisabled people. Overall, 40.7 percent of physicians were very confident about being able to provide equivalent quality of care to patients with disability. About half (56.5 percent) strongly agreed that they welcomed patients with disability into their practices, while 18.1 percent strongly agreed that these patients are often treated unfairly by the health care system.

“Confidence in being able to provide the same quality of care was strongly associated with welcoming disabled patients,” the authors write. “All levels of medical education should include more training about disability.”

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