Document Type



University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health


This study reports on the prevalence and severity of secondary conditions in adults with developmental disabilities living in 33 Montana counties. "Secondary conditions" are additional health problems acquired by an individual with a disability. Although the personal, social, and financial costs of these secondary conditions are extraordinarily high, they are frequently preventable. Ten of the top twelve secondary conditions reported by survey respondents involved issues that can be addressed by wellness activities or lifestyle management. In particular, survey ratings of “Communication,” “Weight,” and “Physical Fitness” problems suggest that these areas may contribute to other problems. Efforts to improve communication skills, nutrition, and fitness might prevent, or reduce the severity, of many other reported secondary conditions. Data suggesting that more than half of respondents are overweight and that a quarter of these are obese are particularly disturbing. Worthy goals for this population would be to increase exercise and fitness, improve nutrition, and reduce the prevalence of obesity.


health and wellness, developmental disability, secondary conditions, prevention, rural, disability


© RTC: Rural, 2001.

Granting Agency

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


This research is supported by grant #R04/CCR818162-03-1 from the Office on Disability and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with additional support from the Montana Developmental Disabilities Planning and Advisory Council and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Project Number