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Physicians with disabilities earn less, work less


Study examines levels of self-reported disabilities and effects on salary.

diverse people team disable cartoon group: © Cienpies Design - stock.adobe.com

© Cienpies Design - stock.adobe.com

Physicians with disabilities earn less money and work fewer hours than doctors who report having no disabilities.

A study of 92,469 physicians aged 35 to 65 years, from 2005 to 2019, found 1,953 reported having a disability. Their annual earned income was 20.8% less, and hourly earned income was 13.3% less, than physicians reporting no disability, said the research letter, “Earnings of US Physicians With and Without Disabilities,” published in JAMA Health Forum.

Physicians reporting disabilities worked 110 hours per year less compared with those without reported disabilities, the study said.

“Estimated differences in annual income by disability status were similar after adjusting for hours worked and surgical specialty status and across age groups; estimates were much larger for disabilities affecting cognitive function, ambulation, independent living, and self-care than vision or hearing,” the study said.

Researchers Mihir Kakara, MBBS; Atheendar S. Venkataramani, MD, PhD noted physician salary data could be underreported, and the disability prevalence of 2% was lower than a previously reported estimate of 3.1%.

Older physicians reported having more disabilities. For example, among 32,804 physicians aged 35 to 44 years, 323, or 1%, reported having a disability. That increased to 577 of 30,437, or 1.7%, of physicians aged 45 to 54, and 1,053 of 27,275, or 3.5%, of doctors aged 55 to 65. Based on age, that suggests many physicians acquired disabilities after choosing medical specialties to work in.

Disability types involved sensory issues with hearing or vision; ambulatory; self-care; cognitive; and independent living.

Data was taken from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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