Conceptual and operational considerations in identifying socioenvironmental factors associated with disability among community-dwelling adults

Mathieu Philibert, Robert Pampalon, Mark DANIEL

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Citations (Scopus)


Disability is conceived as a person–context interaction. Physical and social environments are identified as intervention targets for improving social participation and independence. In comparison to the body of research on place and health, relatively few reports have been published on residential environments and disability in the health sciences literature. We reviewed studies evaluating the socioenvironmental correlates of disability. Searches were conducted in Medline, Embase and CINAHL databases for peer-reviewed articles published between 1997 and 2014. We found many environmental factors to be associated with disability, particularly area-level socioeconomic status and rurality. However, diversity in conceptual and methodological approaches to such research yields a limited basis for comparing studies. Conceptual inconsistencies in operational measures of disability and conceptual disagreement between studies potentially affect understanding of socioenvironmental influences. Similarly, greater precision in socioenvironmental measures and in study designs are likely to improve inference. Consistent and generalisable support for socioenvironmental influences on disability in the general adult population is scarce
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3814-3834
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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