Document Type

Survey/Surveillance Instrument


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health


Objectives. People with disabilities can lead healthy lives but may be at risk for secondary conditions. This study investigated prevalence rates and disability outcome of secondary conditions using the Secondary Conditions Surveillance Instrument (SCSI). The reliability and validity of the SCSI for measuring self-reported limitation due to secondary conditions was also investigated. Methods. Three-hundred-fifty-four handicapped parking permit holders and 22 non-disabled undergraduate students completed the SCSI. Eighteen people with spinal cords injuries completed the SCSI twice approximately 3 years apart. Results. Respondents reported experiencing an average of 14 secondary conditions during the past year with 73% experiencing more than 10 conditions during that time period. Prevalence rates rnged from 51 per 1000 to 785 per 1000 people for various conditions. The SCSI demonstrated reliability and validity. Conclusions. These results suggest a high prevalence rate of disability due to secondary conditions and support the reliability and validity of the SCSI. This instrument may be very useful for departments of public health working to prevent secondary coniditions. These results also suggest that an effective wellness program for people with a physical impairment could substantially reduce disability.


health and wellness, secondary conditions, disability, prevention, epidemiology, instrument, impairment, rural, disability

Granting Agency

Centers for Disease Control


This work was supported, in part, by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (C#U59/CUU803400-02). The authors wish to thank Larry Burt, Joe Smith, and Mark Long of the Disability Prevention Program for their encouragement. We also want to thank the consumers and staff of Summit, Inc., Montana Independent Living Project, and Yellowstone Valley Independent Living Center for the privilege of working with them. We also appreciate the help of out colleagues Julie Clay of the Rural Institute, and Bob Moon and Cecelia Cowie of the Montana Department of Health and Environmental Sciences. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the staff of Community Rehabilitation Center.

Project Number