Question Types Explained

The data sets in use on the portal use one of five question type methodologies:

  • Question Type 1: used a question such as “Do you have a disability?”
  • Question Type 2: used a list of medical conditions
  • Question Type 3: used functional difficulty questions
  • Question Type 4: used adapted Washington Group Questions
  • Question Type 5: used Washington Group Questions as recommended

The Data Source and Methodology by Country table provides reported prevalence in the selected countries based on the methodology used.

The first group of countries use a question such as “Do you have a disability?” (Question Type 1). This leads to underreporting for a few reasons: (1) the term disability is usually associated with shame, (2) people tend to think of disability as something severe, so more moderate conditions are missed, and (3) older people often associate functional limitations with age which they consider different from “disability” (Ingstad and Whyte 1995; Mont 2007).

The second group of countries use a list of medical conditions (Question Type 2). This method is often not considered good practice. Firstly, not all medical conditions can be included in any list, and secondly, people with less education and/or access to medical care may not know their diagnosis (Palmer and Harley 2011). But more importantly, a medical diagnosis does not provide accurate information on a person’s ability to function; two people with the same diagnosis may have very different levels of difficulty doing basic activities (Mont 2007; Van-Brakel and Officer 2008; Miller 2006).

Asking about functional limitations – that is, difficulty doing basic activities – is the preferred approach, such as asking if they have difficulty walking or climbing steps. There may be many medical reasons – but a functional question addresses what a person can or cannot do, not the reason they cannot do it. The third group in the table (Question Type 3) takes such an approach but uses questions other than The Washington Group Questions. For example the Senegalese DHS asks a question on whether somebody has difficulty relating to others. The fourth group attempts to use the Washington Group questions, but adapts them in some ways that are not recommended (Question Type 4). For example, changing the scaled responses to yes/no responses, adding an introduction that uses the term “disability”, or even asking a screener question, such as “Do you have a disability?”, that then leads to the Washington Group questions if the respondent answers in the affirmative. All of these adaptations undermine the recommended approach. 

Countries listed under the final category report that they have used the Washington Group questions as recommended (Question Type 5). However, from the Washington Group’s experience of interacting with national statistical offices that have been using the questions, we know that some countries make verbal reference to “disability” in an introductory statement which, again, undermines the approach. In other instances they may change the response categories from a scaled response to a yes/no response, which damages data validity. Or they may modify the wording in other ways. For example, Paraguay eliminated the self-care question (question 5 of the short set). However, they then tried to capture people with upper mobility issues that the question was identifying, added “moving one’s arms” to the walking question. In testing, the Washington Group found that providing even a short list of domains in a single question is often confusing for respondents.

Data Source and Methodology by Country

Country Data Name Data Year Question Type Question Type Detail
Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (LCS) 2016 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Albania Demographic Health Survey 2008-2009 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Bangladesh Population & Housing Census 2011 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Bangladesh Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Botswana Population and Housing Census 2011 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Burkina Faso Recensement general de la population et de l'habitation 2006 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Burkina Faso Demographic Health Survey 2014 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Cambodia Demographic Health Survey 2014 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Cameroon Demographic Health Survey 2011 2 Use a list of medical conditions
Chad Demographic Health Survey 2014 2 Use a list of medical conditions
Colombia Demographic Health Survey 2015 4 Used the Washington Group Questions in some way that is not recommended
Costa Rica X Censo Nacional de Población y VI de Vivienda 2011 2 Use a list of medical conditions
Djibouti Enquete Djiboutienne aupres des Menages (EDAM) 2017 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Dominican Republic IX National Population and Housing Census 2010 4 Used the Washington Group Questions in some way that is not recommended
Ecuador VII Censo de Poblacion y VI de Vivienda 2010 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Egypt Population, Housing and Establishments Census 2006 2 Use a list of medical conditions
El Salvador Population and Housing Census 2007 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Ethiopia Population and Housing Census 2007 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Gambia Demographic Health Survey 2013 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Gambia Labor Force Survey (LFS) 2018 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Ghana Population and Housing Census 2010 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Haiti Demographic and Health Survey 2016 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
India Disabled people in India, a statistical profile 2016 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Indonesia Population and Housing Census 2010 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Iraq Population and Housing Census 1997 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Jordan Population and Housing Census 2004 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Kenya Population and Housing Census 2009 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Kiribati Population and Housing Census 2015 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Liberia Population and Housing Census 2008 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Liberia Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Malawi Population and Housing Census 2008 4 Used the Washington Group Questions in some way that is not recommended
Malawi Third Integrated Household Survey (IHS) 2010 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Maldives Demographic Health Survey 2009 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Mali Fourth General Census of Population and Housing 2009 2 Use a list of medical conditions
Mali Demographic Health Survey 2018 2 Use a list of medical conditions
Mauritania Demographic Health Survey 2000
Mexico Population and Housing Census 2010 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Morocco Population and Housing Census 2014 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Mozambique III recenseamento geral da população e habitação 2007 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Myanmar First Myanmar National Disability Survey 2010 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2015 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Niger Demographic Health Survey 2017
Nigeria General Household Survey Panel (GHSP) 2018 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Nigeria General Household Survey 2012-2013
Pakistan Situational Analysis and National Plan of Action for People with Disabilities prepared for the World Bank 2004 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2017 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Panama XI Censo Nacional de Población y VII de Vivienda 2010 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Papua New Guinea Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2009 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Philippines Population and Housing Census 2000 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Rwanda Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey 4 2010 2 Use a list of medical conditions
Rwanda Labor Force Survey (LFS) 2018 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Saint Lucia Central Statistical Office calculations 2010 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Senegal Population and Housing Census 2013 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Senegal Demographic Health Survey 2014
Sierra Leone Population and Housing Census 2004 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Sierra Leone Demographic Health Survey 2013-2019
South Africa Census 2011 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
South Africa General Household Survey (GHS) 2018 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
South Sudan 5th Sudan Population and Housing Census 2008 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Suriname Population and Housing Census 2012 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Tajikistan Survey of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) 2016 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Tanzania Population and Housing Census 2012 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Tanzania National Panel Survey (NPS) 2014 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Timor-Leste Demographic Health Survey 2016 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Tonga Population and Housing Census 2016 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Trinidad and Tobago Population and Housing Census 2011 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Uganda National Panel Survey (NPS) 2010 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2016 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
United Kingdom Papworth Trust, Facts and Figures: Disability in the United Kingdom 2018 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Uruguay General Population Census VIII, Homes IV and Housing VI 2011 4 Used the Washington Group Questions in some way that is not recommended
Vanuatu Population and Housing Census 2009 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Venezuela XIII Censo General de Población y Vivienda 2001 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Vietnam Population and Housing Census 2009 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
West Bank/Gaza Expenditure and Consumption Survey (ECS) 2009 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
Yemen Demographic Health Survey 2013 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Zambia Population and Housing Census 2010 1 Uses a question such as 'Do you have disability?'
Zimbabwe Living conditions among people with disability survey, key findings report 2013 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Zimbabwe Disability and poverty in developing countries: a multidimensional study 2013 5 Used the Washington Group Questions as recommended
Zimbabwe Poverty Income Consumption Survey 2019 3 Uses a question on functional limitations, i.e. what a person can or cannot do
You are currently offline. Some pages or content may fail to load.