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Although non-communicable and chronic disease now accounts for 47% of the global burden of disease, little is known of the everyday experiences and social aspects of disability and disablement in middle and low income countries. This article aims to address this gap by exploring the subjective experience of mobility impairment in Malaysia. Specifically, it examines health-related quality of life and the impact and distress related to impaired mobility, and investigates any gender differences in relation to the experience of disability.
The data were collected as part of an interdisciplinary, multi-country study known as RESILIENCE (Research into Social Inclusion, Locomotive Impairment and Empowerment through Networking, Collaboration and Education). Cluster sampling was used to administer the EQ-5D and the Perceived Impact of Problems Profile (PIPP) to 210 adults from Selangor state, west coast Peninsular Malaysia.
The participants consisted of 94 males and 116 females, aged between 18–90 years (mean 60 years), with the majority being Malay. The majority of participants were also married, from rural areas and had primary education only. Very few participants lived alone. In addition, males were more likely to attribute their impaired mobility to an accident. The majority of participants with mobility impairment experienced a moderate to high level of pain/discomfort (79%) and anxiety/depression (72%), and at least some problems with performing usual activities (71%), as measured by the EQ-5D. In addition, using the Perceived Impact of Problems Profile (PIPP), participants also reported high levels of impact and distress related to participation in community life. In general, males reported higher impact and distress across several items, most significantly in regard to participation in community activities, moving around the neighbourhood, ability to live independently, and ability to assist their family members.
This paper provides preliminary data regarding the health-related quality of life among Malaysians with impaired mobility, and highlights the multifaceted impact of disability and the importance of acknowledging the diverse cultural contexts in which disability can occur. It also raises questions regarding gender differences in the subjective experience of disability in Malaysia.
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