Factors Affecting the Acceptance of People with Disabilities at Work: A Literature Review


Purpose A lack of social acceptance by non-disabled co-workers is often the reason why employees with disabilities fail to stay in regular organizations for sustained periods. The aim of the study is to present a coherent review of the extant literature on factors affecting the acceptance of people with disabilities in regular employment. Method We conducted a search of the electronic databases PsychINFO and Web of Science (period: 1996–2011) supplemented with a search for additional relevant articles by means of cross-referencing. In total 48 articles were selected, coded and analyzed by three coders into three overarching themes. Results The analysis of included articles shows that the acceptance of employees with disabilities is influenced by three main variable groups: characteristics of co-workers, of the persons with disabilities and of the employers/organizations. Most studies present factors that influence co-workers’ or employers’ attitudes toward employees with disabilities such as demographic variables. Conclusion Although, recent research has started to accumulate findings on factors that affect the acceptance of employees with disabilities, many gaps remain in the understanding of the concept of acceptance and its relation to the employment of people with disabilities.

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Fig. 1


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    These numbers have to be interpreted carefully as data are inconsistent across countries. Besides different interpretations of the concept disability, the numbers partly include sheltered work or supported employment for those countries that offer these opportunities to people with disabilities.


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This research has been funded by the Atlant group, an organization for sheltered and supported employment.

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Correspondence to Katharina Vornholt.

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Vornholt, K., Uitdewilligen, S. & Nijhuis, F.J.N. Factors Affecting the Acceptance of People with Disabilities at Work: A Literature Review. J Occup Rehabil 23, 463–475 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-013-9426-0

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  • People with disabilities
  • Employee acceptance
  • Sustainable employment
  • Literature review