Objective: To investigate the relation between selected participant characteristics and employment outcomes after spinal cord injury (SCI). Previous studies produced conflicting results with widely varying employment rates due to differences in study participant characteristics.
Design: A field study of the employment history of a large stratified sample of people with SCI. Participants were grouped into cohorts and then compared on several employment variables using the chi square statistic and analysis of variance.
Participants: Three hundred sixty-two persons with SCI, selected by stratified sampling according to gender, race, and age. Participants were further grouped into cohorts based on time since injury, injury severity, and years of education.
Main outcome measures: Multidimensional Adjustment Profile, a specially designed measure of multiple outcomes after SCI.
Results: The most successful employment outcomes were obtained by Caucasian women, persons up to the age of 29 years at injury, participants with incomplete injuries, and participants who had completed at least 16 years of education. The least successful outcomes were observed in minority men, participants age 50 years or older at injury, persons with complete quadriplegia, and participants with fewer than 12 years of education.
Conclusions: Results point to the need for rehabilitation professionals to make special efforts to maximize employability after SCI among people with biographic characteristics that place them at greatest risk for unemployment.