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In this study a postal screening questionnaire was compared with an interviewer-administered questionnaire for identifying disabled persons living in the community. Disability was defined as difficulty with specified activities of daily living, specified medical problems which often cause disablement, and frequent use of a formal health or social service. A 91 per cent response rate to the screening questionnaire was obtained from a random sample of 793 adults in a general practice; 89 were classified as "disabled". Seventy-eight per cent of those subsequently interviewed changed their response to at least one item; this figure fell to 29 per cent when frequent use of formal services was excluded from the definition of disability. None of the persons classified as disabled from the postal survey were considered to be non-disabled after interview. Interviews with a sample of persons who did not report disability on the postal questionnaire resulted in no changes in classification. General practitioners (GPs) who completed screening questionnaires on respondents with the help of practice records were aware of only 79 of 206 disability items reported. The GPs were more aware of respondents' difficulties with activities of daily living than of their medical problems.

Original publication




Journal article


Int Rehabil Med

Publication Date





189 - 193


Disability Evaluation, Disabled Persons, Humans, Postal Service, Surveys and Questionnaires