Thematic issue: The legacy of Corrado Gini in population studies

Self-rated health among disabled persons: the multifaceted relevance of social integration

Elena Pirani


Previous research has stressed the importance of social networks and participation for maintaining good health at all stages in the life cycle. Evidence specifically for disabled people, or persons more likely to be restricted in their social life and with reduced opportunities for social integration, is very sparse, however. In this study we aimed at assessing if and to what extent different domains of social integration are associated with self-rated health of Italian disabled persons. Empirical analyses were based on the Italian Survey Social inclusion of people with functional limitations carried out by the Italian Institute of Statistics in 2011.

Our findings show that, more than family or friendship ties, social engagement is a crucial factor in improving disabled Italians’ perception of good health. In addition, we found that the availability of support afforded by social networks, more than social networks themselves, is key to reducing self-rated health inequalities. Finally, all the identified integration domains act in a differentiated way according to individual socio-demographic characteristics. This study highlights the fact that efforts to improve opportunities for disabled persons to engage in social activities and facilitate access to support should receive greater attention from policy makers and, more generally, from the whole community.

Elena PIRANI, Researcher, Department of Statistics, Informatics, Applications, University of Florence, Italy. E-mail:


perceived health; disability; social participation; social networks; social support; Italy

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54