Satisfaction, safety, and supports: Comparing people with disabilities’ insider experiences about participation in institutional and community living

Alisa Jordan Sheth, Katherine E McDonald, Louis Fogg, Nicole E. Conroy, Edward H.J. Elms, Lewis E. Kraus, Lex Frieden, Joy Hammel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Legislation and court decisions in the United States mandate the right to least restrictive community living and participation for people with disabilities, yet little research has examined differences in participation across institutional and community settings, or over time in the community post-transition. Objective: As part of a multi-site participatory action research project examining participation, we examined the differences in quality of life in institutional and community living environments among people with disabilities. Methods: We conducted surveys with adults with disabilities between 18 and 65 years-old that transitioned from institutions to the community in the United States within the last five years. This paper reports on findings for a diverse sample of 150 participants. Results: We found significant differences between ratings of institutional and community experiences, with increased reports of satisfaction, personal safety, service access, and participation in community settings. We also found significant improvements in community integration and inclusion after transition to community living, although barriers to transportation and activity access often remained. Conclusions: This study of insider experiences of previously institutionalized people with disabilities illuminates important understandings of community participation, integration, and quality of life for the disability community in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDisability and Health Journal
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Community integration
  • Deinstitutionalization
  • Disability
  • Participation
  • Transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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