Disability and poverty are believed to operate in a cycle, with each reinforcing the other. While agreement on the existence of a link is strong, robust empirical evidence substantiating and describing this potential association is lacking. Consequently, a systematic review was undertaken to explore the relationship between disability and economic poverty, with a focus on the situation in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
Ten electronic databases were searched to retrieve studies of any epidemiological design, published between 1990-March 2016 with data comparing the level of poverty between people with and without disabilities in LMICs (World Bank classifications). Poverty was defined using economic measures (e.g. assets, income), while disability included both broad assessments (e.g. self-reported functional or activity limitations) and specific impairments/disorders. Data extracted included: measures of association between disability and poverty, population characteristics and study characteristics. Proportions of studies finding positive, negative, null or mixed associations between poverty and disability were then disaggregated by population and study characteristics.