A NATIONAL AGENDA FOR THE PREVENTION OF DISABILITY
To reduce the incidence and prevalence of disability in the United States, as well as the personal, social, and economic consequences of disability in order to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and the population at large.
Organization and Coordination—Establish leadership and administrative responsibility for implementing and coordinating the National Agenda for the Prevention of Disability within a single unit of the federal government. Implementation of the agenda should be guided by a national advisory committee, and progress should be critically evaluated periodically. In addition to federal leadership, achieving the goals of the agenda will require the strong, sustained participation of the state, local, and private sectors.
Surveillance—Develop a conceptual framework and standard definitions of disability and related concepts as the basis for a national disability surveillance system. Such a system should be designed to (1) characterize the nature, extent, and consequences of disability and antecedent conditions in the U.S. population; (2) elucidate the causal pathways of specific types of disability; (3) identify promising means of prevention; and (4) monitor the progress of prevention efforts.
Research—Develop a comprehensive national research program on disability prevention. The research should emphasize longitudinal studies and should focus on preventive and therapeutic interventions. Special attention should be directed to the causal mechanisms whereby socioeconomic and psychosocial disadvantage lead to disability. Training young scientists for careers in research on disability prevention should become a high priority.
Access to Care and Preventive Services—Eliminate the barriers to access to care, especially for women and children, to permit more effective primary prevention and prevent progression of disability and the development of secondary conditions. Existing programs of proven effectiveness should be expanded, and new service programs should be introduced. Returning persons with disabling conditions to productive, remunerative work is a high priority.
Professional and Public Education—Educate health professionals in the prevention of disability. Foster a broad public understanding of the importance of eliminating social, attitudinal, and environmental barriers to the participation of people with functional limitations in society and to the fulfillment of their personal goals. Educate health professionals, people with disability, family members, and personal attendants in disability prevention and preventing the development of secondary conditions.