Note: the original hard copy of this report is 24 pages .

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The legal needs of people with different types of chronic illness or disability, Justice issues paper 11   

, 2009 Consistent with overseas research, Justice made to measure: NSW Legal Needs Survey in disadvantaged areas reported that people with a chronic illness or disability are particularly vulnerable to experiencing legal problems and have difficulty resolving these problems. However, `chronic illness or disability` constitutes a diverse range of conditions and very little research to date has compared and contrasted the legal needs of people with different types of illness or disability. Using data from the NSW Legal Needs Survey, this paper compares people with different types of chronic illness or disability on their incidence of legal problems, their rates of taking action in response to these problems and their resolution rates.


Aims of the present study


The present study aimed to further elucidate the nature of the access to justice and legal needs of people with a chronic illness or disability by reporting on some additional analyses of the data from the Coumarelos et al. (2006) survey.

Six specific aims were identified for this present study. The first two aims involved further comparisons between the group of participants with a chronic illness or disability and the group without a chronic illness or disability. More specifically, the first two aims investigated whether participants with a chronic illness or disability differed from other participants in terms of:


The present study also involved comparisons between participants with different types of chronic illness or disability. Coumarelos et al. (2006) reported on participants with a chronic illness or disability as a single group, and did not examine whether participants with certain types of chronic illness or disability are even more likely than others to experience legal problems and to require assistance to resolve those problems. The present study investigated whether people with different types of chronic illness or disability differ in the legal problems they experience and the outcomes they achieve. For comparison purposes, the participants with a chronic illness or disability were divided into five sub-groups based on the type of chronic illness or disability. More specifically, the last four aims of the present study were to examine whether the five sub-groups of chronic illness or disability differed in terms of their:
For the sake of convenience, throughout the results sections of the present paper, the entire group of participants with a chronic illness or disability will be referred to as ‘participants with a disability’, and ‘disability status’ will refer to whether or not participants are part of this group. The five sub-groups of participants with different types of chronic illnesses or disabilities will be referred to as the ‘disability type’ sub-groups.

The study aims were addressed via a range of statistical analyses, including logistic regression, chi-square, Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney analyses. Details of the analyses conducted are provided in Appendix 2.

Before the results of these analyses are presented here, descriptions are provided of the characteristics of the group of participants with a disability and the characteristics of the five disability type sub-groups.