Barriers in access to healthcare for women with disabilities: a systematic review in qualitative studies

Behzad Karami Matin, Heather J. Williamson, Ali Kazemi Karyani, Satar Rezaei, Moslem Soofi, Shahin Soltani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background: Studies show that different socio-economic and structural factors can limit access to healthcare for women with disabilities. The aim of the current study was to review barriers in access to healthcare services for women with disabilities (WWD) internationally. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of relevant qualitative articles in PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus databases from January 2009 to December 2017. The search strategy was based on two main topics: (1) access to healthcare; and (2) disability. In this review, women (older than 18) with different kinds of disabilities (physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities) were included. Studies were excluded if they were not peer-reviewed, and had a focus on men with disabilities. Results: Twenty four articles met the inclusion criteria for the final review. In each study, participants noted various barriers to accessing healthcare. Findings revealed that WWD faced different sociocultural (erroneous assumptions, negative attitudes, being ignored, being judged, violence, abuse, insult, impoliteness, and low health literacy), financial (poverty, unemployment, high transportation costs) and structural (lack of insurance coverage, inaccessible equipment and transportation facilities, lack of knowledge, lack of information, lack of transparency, and communicative problems) factors which impacted their access healthcare. Conclusions: Healthcare systems need to train the healthcare workforce to respect WWD, pay attention to their preferences and choices, provide non-discriminatory and respectful treatment, and address stigmatizing attitudinal towards WWD. In addition, families and communities need to participate in advocacy efforts to promote WWD’s access to health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number44
JournalBMC Women's Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Healthcare delivery
  • Healthcare disparities
  • Intellectual disability
  • Qualitative research
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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