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R-2: Time Use Among People with Disabilities

The Bottom Line

We know that employment, transportation and physical access influence the community living experiences and participation of people with disabilities. In this study, we’re using information from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to understand how people with various disabilities use their time. Results from the study will inform policy and practice and may provide important new information about the association between employment and community engagement.

Understanding how disability affects the way people spend their time is an important aspect of understanding community participation. For example, we know that having an impairment is associated with higher rates of unemployment, but how do unemployed individuals with impairments use this extra time?  Moreover, how does the availability of transportation interact with disability to affect time use?  

Countries around the world have used time as a metric for understanding the impact of social policy on sub-populations. The U.S. has been collecting time use data since 2002, and in 2008 began using disability screening items from the American Community Survey as part of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). ATUS is a continuous survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Households are selected using a set of criteria that produces nationally representative estimates. We used ATUS data collected between 2008 and 2011 to examine time use patterns of people who report mobility impairments.  

We analyzed the data of 32,627 individuals who were between the ages of 21 and 65. Within this sample, 2695 reported some type of disability. We compared time use of individuals with no impairment to those with mobility only or with mobility and self-care impairments (n = 1287 and 403, respectively). Specifically, we examined the reported time spent transporting, working, grooming, performing health-related self-care, socializing, leisure and watching TV. Lastly, we examined distributional differences by whether family income was above or below the median.

Identifying the relative impact of disability and transportation on time use may help to promote policy changes and further research that advances independence and health. Further, time use research relevant to disability, transportation, and community development may lead to interventions that increase community participation.

Project background 
Purpose of the Study, Anticipated Benefits, Methods and Hypotheses

More information about the design of the research:
Sample, Data Collection and Measurement, Data Analysis

Project Investigators: Craig Ravesloot, PhD, Tom Seekins, PhD, Catherine Ipsen, PhD, 
Andrew Myers and Lillie Greiman




Principal Investigator: Craig Ravesloot, PhD

This is one of six projects that uses existing data to analyze how barriers to and experiences of community living may differ across socio-demographic and geographic groups.

Photo courtesy of the CDC and Florida Office on Health and Disability 

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