Demographics of wheelchair users in France: Results of national community-based handicaps-incapacités-dépendance surveys
Nicolas Vignier, Jean-François Ravaud, Myriam Winance, François-Xavier Lepoutre, Isabelle Ville
Objective: To highlight the prevalence of manual and/or powered wheelchair use within the general French population living at home or in institutions, to describe the users and to identify factors determining wheelchair use.
Methods: Data were obtained from national community-based Handicaps-Incapacités-Dépendance surveys on disability and dependency carried out on 2 representative samples of the French population in institutions (n = 15,288) and at home (n = 16,945).
Results: The prevalence of wheelchair use is 62 per 10,000 people living in France. Forty-three percent of users live in institutions. They frequently show multiple impairments and severe disabilities. They have a mean age of 70 years and 64% are women. After taking confounding factors into account, results show that wheelchair use is not sex-related and decreases slightly with age. On the other hand, wheelchair use is related to widowhood, to the extent of impairments and disabilities, to confinement, to exposure to environmental obstacles and to institutional life.
Conclusion: Sociodemographic studies on the use of wheelchairs need to pay greater attention to people living in institutions. The prevalence of wheelchair use in France appears to be far lower than in other western countries, and this observation needs to be examined further with intercultural comparisons.
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