Measuring disability, physical functions and cognitive abilities of adults: Survey enhancements and options for a new panel study

This paper reviews measures of the physical and cognitive abilities of adults in the context of a national household panel survey and considers whether a new household panel survey is needed to answer scientific and policy questions related to disability. To address this topic, we first review illustrative scientific and policy issues related to disability and functioning and review gaps in the nation's disability-related data system. Next, we offer a set of key domains to be measured, review several additional covariates of interest, and describe existing summary measures to identify the population living with disability. Finally, we take up the challenging issue of tradeoffs in starting a new household survey versus enhancing existing studies or developing specialized studies with a focus on disability to address these issues.