Protective Role of Social Networks for the Well-Being of Persons with Disabilities: Results from a State-Wide Cross-Sectional Survey in Kerala, India
The current study presents the findings from a cross-sectional survey on social factors associated with the well-being of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Kerala, India. We conducted a community-based survey across three geographical zones, North, Central, and South of Kerala state, between April and September 2021. We randomly selected two districts from each zone using a stratified sample method, followed by one local self-government from each of these six districts. Community health professionals identified individuals with disabilities, and researchers collected information on their social networks, service accessibility, well-being, and mental health. Overall, 244 (54.2%) participants had a physical disability, while 107 (23.78%) had an intellectual disability. The mean well-being score was 12.9 (S.D = 4.9, range = 5–20). Overall, 216 (48%) had poor social networks, 247 (55%) had issues regarding service accessibility, and 147 (33%) had depressive symptoms. Among the PWDs with issues with service access, 55% had limited social networks. A regression analysis revealed that social networks (b = 2.30, p = 0.000) and service accessibility (b = −2.09, p = 0.000) were associated with well-being. Social networks are more important than financial assistance because they facilitate better access to psycho-socioeconomic resources, a prerequisite for well-being.