Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on health, financial worries, and perceived organizational support among people living with disabilities in Canada
Gignac MAM, Shahidi FV, Jetha A, Kristman V, Bowring J, Cameron JI, Tonima S, Ibrahim S
Disability and Health Journal 2021
Published: September 2022
Background: Individuals with physical or mental health disabilities may be particularly vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 on their health and employment.
Objectives: We examined COVID-19-related concerns for health, finances, and organizational support among workers with no disability, a physical, mental health, or both physical and mental health disability, and factors associated with COVID-19 perceptions.
Methods: An online, cross-sectional survey was administered to a sample of Canadians in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Questions asked about COVID-19 perceptions, demographics (gender, age, education), work context (e.g., sector, contract work) and employment conditions (e.g., job stress, control, accommodation needs). Descriptive, multivariable, and nested regression analyses examined factors associated with COVID-19 perceptions.
Results: A total of 3066 participants completed the survey. Workers with both a physical and mental health disability reported significantly greater health and financial concerns and less organizational support than those with no disability. Workers with a physical disability reported more health concerns and those with a mental health disability reported more financial concerns and less organizational support. Respondents with disabilities also reported significant differences in employment conditions (e.g., more contract work, stress, unmet accommodation needs) than those with no disability. Employment conditions were consistently significant predictors of COVID-19 perceptions and attenuated the significance of disability type in analyses.
Conclusions: Concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on one's health, finances, and organizational support reflected existing disability inequities in employment conditions and highlight the importance of creating more inclusive employment opportunities for people living with physical and mental health disabilities.