Yochai Eisenberg and Casey Herman among authors of Evaluation of Healthy Communities and Disability Project

Yochai Eisenberg is the lead author of Evaluation of the Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities Project. DHD post-doc Casey Herman is among the authors.


People with disabilities experience disparities in chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, in disproportionate numbers. Research suggests that healthy communities initiatives that work to implement policy, systems and environmental (PSE) changes can help reduce these disparities by improving access to healthy choices for community residents with disabilities. However, healthy communities efforts to implement PSE changes are often not inclusive of people with disabilities.


The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the implementation of an Inclusive Healthy Communities Model that was designed to reach people with disabilities through inclusive PSE changes.


Professionals from local public health agencies and disability organizations in 10 diverse communities worked to infuse disability inclusion into PSE changes promoting healthy living. Data on PSE implementation was collected and coded into categories to describe the nature of the inclusive PSEs.


Communities implemented 507 inclusive PSEs, 466 of which were environmental changes, 25 systems changes, and 16 policy changes. A large majority of PSEs were related to improving the built environment to facilitate access to public spaces, such as parks, playgrounds, and community gardens. Many communities also implemented policy and systems changes related to the addition of inclusion into existing policies, community plans, and ongoing training of staff.


Integrating disability inclusion into traditional healthy communities efforts can facilitate improved access and opportunity for healthy living among people with disabilities. This pilot project has implications for public health workforce training, current practices, and PSE development with interdisciplinary teams and multisectoral coalitions.