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Research Report: The legal needs of people with chronic illness or disability, Justice issues paper 11
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The legal needs of people with chronic illness or disability, Justice issues paper 11  ( 2009 )  Cite this report



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Action taken


Participants with a disability

Participants of the Coumarelos et al. (2006) survey were asked to provide information on the actions they took in response to their three most recent legal events.23 These events comprised 751 events for participants with a disability and 2263 events for participants without a disability. The rate of seeking help for participants with a disability was not significantly different to the rate for other participants. Figures 2a and 2b show that, similar to participants without a disability, participants with a disability sought help for about half their legal events and did nothing in response to about one-third of their legal events.

Figure 2a: Action taken in response to legal events
Participants with a disability, 2003

Note: N=725 events for participants with a disability. Action taken was
missing for 26 events reported by participants with a disability.



Figure 2b: Action taken in response to legal events
Participants without a disability, 2003

Note: N=2186 events for participants without a disability. Action taken
was missing for 77 events reported by participants without a disability.



Disability type sub-groups

Although the group of participants with a disability did not have reduced rates of seeking help, a logistic regression was conducted comparing the five disability type sub-groups to examine whether any of the sub-groups have reduced rates of seeking help. The regression analysis was based on the three most recent legal events experienced by participants with a disability. It showed that disability type was not a significant predictor of seeking help (see non-significant variables in Table 8).24 Thus, the five disability type sub-groups did not differ significantly in their rates of seeking help ­— each sub-group sought help for roughly half of their legal events (see Table 9).

Table 8: Summary of mixed-effects binary logistic regression for action taken
Participants with a disability, 2003
SIGNIFICANT VARIABLE
VariableComparison
Odds ratio a
Legal event group b
CivilAccident/injury versus average
ns
Business versus average
3.4
Consumer versus average
0.4
Education versus average
ns
Employment versus average
ns
Government versus average
ns
Health versus average
ns
Housing versus average
ns
Human rights versus average
0.2
Wills/estates versus average
ns
CriminalDomestic violence versus average
ns
General crime versus average
ns
FamilyFamily versus average
ns
NON-SIGNIFICANT VARIABLESDisability type, gender, age, country of birth, personal income, educational level

a An odds ratio greater than 1.0 indicates the first category in the comparison had higher odds than the second. An odds ratio less than 1.0 indicates the first category in the comparison had lower odds than the second.
b Each legal event group was compared to the average effect for all legal event groups. Credit/debt and traffic offence events were excluded from the analysis due to the insufficient numbers in these legal event groups.
Notes: n=696 events for participants with a disability. Action taken was missing for 26 events and disability type was missing for 10 events. A further 19 events were excluded because they were unclassified, credit/debt or traffic offence events.
‘ns’ indicates the odds ratio was not statistically significant, that is, the odds for the first category in the comparison were not statistically different from the odds for the second (even though the overall variable was significant).

Table 9: Action taken by disability type
Participants with a disability, 2003
Disability type
Sought help
Handled alone or did nothing
No. of
events
% of events
% of events
Mental health problem
53.8
46.2
65
Sensory disability
60.0
40.0
20
Physical disability
58.2
41.8
330
Chronic condition
48.0
52.0
254
Multiple types
52.2
47.8
46
Total
53.8
46.2
715
Note: n=715 events for participants with a disability. Action taken was missing for 26 events and disability type was missing for 10 events.
The only variable that was a significant predictor of whether participants with a disability sought help was type of legal event. Similarly, Coumarelos et al. (2006) reported that type of legal event was a significant predictor of action taken for the overall sample (which included participants without a disability). These findings are consistent with the notion that people consider the characteristics of the event when they make decisions about whether or not to seek help. Both the overall sample (see Coumarelos et al. 2006, pp. 96–99) and the group of participants with a disability (see Table 8) were less likely on average to seek help for consumer and human rights events than for other events. However, while the overall sample were more likely on average to seek help for accident/injury, employment and wills/estates events than other events, the group of participants with a disability was more likely to seek help on average for business events than for other events.

  


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Coumarelos, C & Wei, Z 2009, The legal needs of people with different types of chronic illness or disability, Justice issues paper 11, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney