Background: There are 63 million persons with disabilities (PWDs) in China, and most of them live in rural areas. They have received inadequate education, employment and the treatment for rehabilitation. They are disadvantaged in society. Discrimination of and prejudice against PWDs still exist in China. Their living conditions are below the social average although PWDs are being given more and more attention by the government and society in recent years.
Objectives: To survey the needs of PWDs and the services for PWDs; To find the factors that influence the realization and possible fulfillment of their needs and desires; To make suggestions to relevant departments of government for possible improvement of the situation of PWDs.
Methods: Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used in this study. There were 109 persons with physical disability involved in this study, 50 were from a rural area, 59 from an urban area. Data were collected through a questionnaire. 10 PWDs were involved in a semi-structured interview. Two focus group discussions were respectively conducted in a rural area and an urban area. A total of 12 PWDs participated in these two group discussions.
Findings: There is a big difference in the needs of and the services for male and female PWDs between the rural and the urban area on various aspects, such as medical rehabilitation (including western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine), education, rehabilitation knowledge, employment, and free-barrier environment reconstruction, etc. Rural PWDs live in a poorer situation than urban PWDs in Chinese society. Therefore Community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programs should be given more attention and further facilitated in order to promote more participation of PWDs in social activities.