Barbara Lutz was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Nursing in Madison, WI at the time this article was written. She is now an assistant professor at the University of Florida, College of Nursing in Gainesville, FL.
Understanding How Disability is Defined and Conceptualized in the Literature
Version of Record online: 10 JUL 2012
2003 Association of Rehabilitation Nurses
Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 74–78, May-June 2003
How to Cite
Lutz, B. J. and Bowers, B. J. (2003), Understanding How Disability is Defined and Conceptualized in the Literature. Rehabilitation Nursing, 28: 74–78. doi: 10.1002/j.2048-7940.2003.tb02037.x
- Issue online: 10 JUL 2012
- Version of Record online: 10 JUL 2012
- disability models;
- rehabilitation theory;
- theoretical models
A goal of rehabilitation nursing is to advance the care of persons with chronic disabling conditions by minimizing disability. There are two distinct perspectives in the literature about how to conceptualize disability. Definitions and models of disability that inform rehabilitation nursing practice are based on a functionalist perspective of illness and locate disability as a problem of individual functioning. Alternatively, there are definitions and models that have evolved from the civil rights and social justice perspectives, and that locate the problem of disability within a disabling society. Recent attempts to integrate these two perspectives are based on earlier rehabilitation models and the functionalist assumptions remain. Rehabilitation nursing research and practice based on either of these two perspectives is fragmented and incomplete. To know how to define and approach disability-related issues, it is important to understand how people living with disability perceive its influences on their lives.