Identifying Health Care Barriers Experienced by Women with Disabilities and Parents Caring for Child
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Identifying Health Care Barriers Experienced by Women with Disabilities and
Parents Caring for Children with Disabilities
— Research Published in Leading Nursing Journal Addresses Barriers for Reproductive Care
for Women with Disabilities and the Support Needed by Families Caring for Children with
Washington, DC, August 4, 2015 — In the United States, approximately 27 million women have disabilities, including more than 50% of women older than age 65. Nurses and other clinicians must understand and become more knowledgeable about the unique health needs of these women in order to provide quality care. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which offers a timely opportunity to explore health care for women affected by disabilities.
The July/August 2015 issue of Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN) from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) features a series of articles on the nursing care of women with disabilities and the issues faced by families of children with disabilities.
“Health care professionals often neglect the concerns and specific health needs, especially sexual and reproductive needs, of women with disabilities due to a lack of access to information and knowledge about caring for these women,” writes guest editor Barbara D. Camune, DrPH, CNM, WHNP-BC, FACNM. “It is important that clinicians are knowledgeable about the common concerns of women with disabilities regarding the safety of breastfeeding, sexuality, and the use of contraception. In addition, nurses should also be aware of strategies to assist women and families with the transition of disabled infants or children from the hospital to community care.”
In “Supporting Families of Children with Disabilities” Cheryl Riley, DNP, APRN, NNP-BC and Lori Baas Rubarth, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC explain concerns families experience while caring for infants or children with disabilities. With advances in technology and neonatal care, survival rates of premature infants or those born with birth defects have improved. Additionally, the number of children with disabilities living at home has doubled since 1960, likely due to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Caring for a child with a disability can significantly affect the entire family.
The authors share insights on family adjustment challenges and web-based resources that may help. They also suggest that an interdisciplinary team can assist families and find needed supports.
Becky Spencer, PhD, RN, IBCLC addresses breastfeeding concerns in “Medications and Breastfeeding for Mothers with Chronic Illnesses.” Although breastfeeding may improve the condition of the mother and is important for infant growth and development, many women with chronic conditions are discouraged from breastfeeding by health care professionals because of medication use and fear of adverse effects on the infant. However, many medications are not contraindicated for breastfeeding. The author provides resources for assessing medications to guide mothers with disabilities on breastfeeding.
In “Meeting the Reproductive Needs of Female Adolescents with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities” Katherine Ferrell Fouquier, PhD, RN, CNM and Barbara D. Camune argue that bias among health care professionals affects education and provision of reproductive care for this vulnerable population. Barriers to care may include accessibility of the office, positioning for examination, contraception counseling, pregnancy care, and managing the parent or caregiver. The authors recommend a nonjudgmental approach to develop a therapeutic and trusting relationship.
“In a society where people with disabilities are included and respected, providing competent health care to these individuals must be a national priority,” said AWHONN CEO, Lynn Erdman, MN, RN, FAAN. “This exploration of health care challenges experienced by women and children with disabilities provides insightful resources for improving quality of care.”
For media interviews, contact:
Kelly Mack for AWHONN
The Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN), is an internationally ranked scientific and technical journal published bimonthly by the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. JOGNN is online at jognn.awhonn.org
Since 1969, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has been the foremost authority promoting the health of women and newborns and strengthening the nursing profession through the delivery of superior advocacy, research, education, and other professional and clinical resources. AWHONN represents the interests of 350,000 registered nurses working in women's health, obstetric, and neonatal nursing across the United States. Learn more about AWHONN at www.awhonn.org.