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Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities: A United States Study


Introduction This study examined the effect of vocational rehabilitation services on employment outcomes of people with sensory/communicative, physical, and mental impairments in the United States. Methods The sample frame includes 5,000 clients for each of the three disability groups whose cases were closed as either rehabilitated or not rehabilitated by state vocational rehabilitation agencies in the fiscal year 2005. The dependent variable is employment outcome. The predictor variables include a set of personal history variables and vocational rehabilitation service variables. Results Sixty-two percent of the clients in this study were gainfully employed after receiving vocational rehabilitation services. Individuals with sensory/communicative impairments had the highest success rate (75%) compared to 56% for the physical impairments group and 55% for those with mental impairments. Logistic regression analyses identified job placement, on-the-job support, maintenance, and other services (e.g., medical care for acute conditions) as significant predictors of employment success across all impairment groups. In addition, diagnostic and treatment (D&T) services (odds ratio [OR] = 1.57; 95% CI: 1.35–1.82) and rehabilitation technology services (OR = 1.97, 95% CI: 1.67–2.33) were found to uniquely contribute to employment outcomes for the sensory impairments group as well as the physical impairments group (D&T services: OR = 1.31, 95% CI: 1.15–1.48; RT services: OR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.13–1.75), but not the mental impairments group. Substantial counseling was associated with employment outcomes for the physical (OR = 1.16, 95% CI: 1.02–1.32) and mental impairments groups (OR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.03–1.35). Miscellaneous training (OR = 1.31; 95% CI: 1.09–1.49) was specifically associated with employment outcomes of the mental impairments group. Conclusion This study provides some empirical support documenting the association between vocational rehabilitation services and employment outcomes of people with disabilities.

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This study was supported in part by funding from the Rehabilitation Research Institute for Underrepresented Populations (National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Grant #H133A031705) at Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Correspondence to Alo Dutta.

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Dutta, A., Gervey, R., Chan, F. et al. Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities: A United States Study. J Occup Rehabil 18, 326 (2008).

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  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Employment
  • Rehabilitation