Summary and Implications of Study on Vocational Outcomes

The purpose of this study was to identify factors that related to employment success among African Americans with disabilities. A secondary purpose was to apply a model of risk and resistance factors to explaining employment outcomes.

Some of the findings from the descriptive statistics are noteworthy. The sample of African Americans had much higher employment rates than that found in the general population of African Americans with disabilities (i.e., 42% were employed). The overwhelming majority (94%) of the participants in this study reported a desire to work. Moreover, a large percentage, 78%, felt they had the ability to work. These findings suggest that work is valued in this population. Efforts to increase em-ployability should be encouraged.

The findings from this study revealed several factors that relate to employment attitudes and behaviors. Disability severity was correlated with both measures. Respondents whose disabilities were rated as more severe had less successful employment outcomes. This finding is not surprising and supports the model of disability severity as a risk factor for adjustment.

Perceived capability to do the same type of work and perceived ability to work were significantly related to employment status. Participants who felt that they could continue to do the same type of work they had

Table 4.5

Variables That Significantly Predicted Attitudes Toward Employment

Variable

Significance Level

Disability severity Attitudes toward disability Self-esteem

done before becoming disabled were more likely to be employed and to have favorable work attitudes. Similarly participants who felt they had the ability to work were more likely to be employed. Persons whose usual occupation were blue-collar and professional were more likely to be employed than those whose occupations were not.

All three psychosocial variables related to employment status and attitudes toward employment in bivariate analysis. These findings are consistent with previous research by the author and others.

Multivariate Analyses. The multivariate analyses allowed us to assess the unique contribution of the resistance and risk factors on the two vocational variables. For the employment status measure, attitudes toward the disability, self-esteem, and perceived capability to do the same type of work were significant factors. For the attitudes toward employment measure, severity of disability, attitudes toward the disability, and self-esteem were significant predictors.

Self-esteem appears to have an important influence on vocational success. The importance of self-esteem as it relates to vocational success is highlighted by the fact that it was a significant predictor for both of the employment measures and was significant in both bivariate and multi-variate analyses.

Attitudes toward disability were also an influential variable. They were also a significant predictor in both the multivariate and bivariate analyses. This is not surprising; self-esteem and attitude toward disability are closely related. Disabled persons who feel positive about their disability status are likely to have high self-esteem and vice versa. These individuals should fare well vocationally.

Social support was significantly correlated with all of the measures of employment success in the bivariate analyses. However, social support was not a significant predictor in the multivariate analyses. Social support also did not make a significant contribution to vocational success when other variables such as self-esteem and attitudes toward the dis ability were present. This finding was unexpected because of the strong impact of social support on adjustment to disability found in other studies (Belgrave & Walker, 1991a & b; Wilson, 1988). One possible explanation for why social support was not significant in the multivariate analyses (but was significant in the bivariate analyses) is that it is tied closely to self-esteem and attitudes toward the disability. Therefore, social support may not have made a contribution to explaining the variance after controlling for self-esteem and attitudes toward the disability. This finding suggests that social support may indirectly impact vocational success through its impact on self-esteem and attitudes toward disability.

The study supported Wallander's et al. (1989) model of risk and resistance factors in adaption of chronic illness and disability. The results of this study indicated that both risk and resistance factors accounted for successful employment outcomes. All of the resistance factors were significant in multivariate analyses. The risk factor was significant in two of the multivariate analyses. The current study provides support for the role of intrapersonal, socioecological, and stress-processing variables in this population of African Americans with disabilities.

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