RehabWire - Volume 10, Number 1, February 2008.

Vocational Rehabilitation Outcomes

Prevention of secondary conditions is a major focus of NIDRR's Health and Function Priority.

NIDRR Grantees on the Cutting Edge.

Building Research Capacity Through Collaboration among American Indian Tribes in Connecticut and Rhode Island, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (H133A031706), led by Felicia Wilkins-Turner, PhD. Delores Watkins, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project builds capacity among four American Indian Tribes to improve the quality of health and disability service information available for Tribes in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Four objectives achieve this goal: (1) to investigate access to, and acceptance rates for VR services, types of services provided, and VR costs for American Indians with disabilities; (2) to ensure the optimal collaboration of Connecticut and Rhode Island Indian Tribes and others in disability and rehabilitation research, (3) to maximize potential for recruitment of American Indian researchers; and (4) to investigate and evaluate the participation of American Indians in disability and rehabilitation research activities and direct service delivery, and determine to what extent participation leads to improved VR outcomes.

Vocational Rehabilitation: Transition Services that Lead to Competitive Employment Outcomes for Transition-Age Individuals with Blindness or Other Visual Impairments, Mississippi State University (H133A070001), led by Brenda Cavenaugh. Edna Johnson, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project conducts scientifically based research on transition services that lead to competitive employment outcomes for transition-age individuals with blindness or other visual impairments. The project includes four major research projects and a plan of dissemination. Project 1 involves conducting an integrative (systematic) literature review to identify and synthesize research on services leading to successful employment and other postsecondary outcomes for blind youth. The review process is considered empirical research and is approached with the scientific rigor used when conducting primary research. Project 2 includes analysis of five national, cross-sectional, and longitudinal data sources to explore relationships between potential causes or influencing factors and positive transition outcomes of youth who are blind or visually impaired. Specialized approaches used in analysis of the longitudinal data sources allow opportunity for causal inferences. Project 3 uses qualitative and quantitative methods in the collection of data from a variety of sources (focus groups with rehabilitation professionals, teachers, post-secondary support service providers, SSA representatives, and others; interviews with consumers; VR case records). The research identifies factors that impact the employment status of transition-age youth. Project 4 involves using knowledge gained from Projects 1, 2, and 3 to identify and develop, demonstrate, and evaluate the effectiveness of two interventions—one targeting youth who are preparing to transition from high school to employment or college and the other targeting youth who are preparing to transition from college to employment. In implementing the plan of dissemination, a variety of methods help ensure that the quality, clarity, and accessibility of products are appropriate for the target population.
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Vocational rehabilitation "assists those individuals to secure gainful employment commensurate with their abilities and capabilities through local job searches and awareness of self-employment and telecommuting opportunities."

Employment Service Systems Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, Hunter College of CUNY (H133B040014), led by John O’Neill, PhD. Edna Johnson, Project Officer. Abstract: This Employment Service Systems Research and Training Center develops, enhances, and utilizes partnerships to improve the quality of employment services, opportunities, and outcomes for people with disabilities. Five research projects have been designed to meet this goal and examine partnerships across public agencies, between not- for-profit and public agencies, and between rehabilitation agencies and businesses. The Consortia for Employment Success (CES) creates and evaluates fully integrated disability service provider networks in three local communities. The CES increases access for people with disabilities to both effective, comprehensive placement services, and a well-managed and centralized employer network that will increase employment and career advancement opportunities for persons with disabilities. The Workplace Socialization Model (WPS) supplements the CES Model by focusing on job enhancement and retention. The WPS aims to extend the job tenure of employees with a disability and other positive work outcomes including the employee’s job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and level of work culture competency, as well as the employer’s satisfaction with the employee’s job performance. Identification of “Good Practices” within Vocational Rehabilitation is designed to identify a variety of good practices currently being used in the State-Federal VR system across the US that facilitate consumer access to services and enhance employment outcomes. Designing and Testing Comprehensive Employment Practice and Policy Initiatives within a Vocational Rehabilitation State Agency develops and tests a model that leads to enhanced employment outcomes. The model includes the “human capital” characteristics of persons with disabilities as well as what vocational rehabilitation delivery systems add to these human capital factors to improve outcomes. A study of collaboration between Workforce Investment Act (WIA) partners in One-Stops collects data within 16 Iowa regions and correlates different levels of collaboration with customer satisfaction and employment outcomes.
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Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Vocational Rehabilitation Research, University of Massachusetts Boston (H133B070001), led by John Halliday. Phillip Beatty, Project Officer.
Abstract: The RRTC for Vocational Rehabilitation Research provides a comprehensive description of the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program, collects best practices, and addresses the need for information that will assist administrators, researchers, and advocates to make data driven policy and practice decisions. The RRTC (1) conducts an exhaustive, systematic research literature search in Year 1, modeled after the Campbell Collaboration reviews, to provide a comprehensive platform for future research activities of the RRTC and for other researchers and policy-makers; (2) collects descriptive data from a wide range of sources including existing administrative datasets, official documents, and launches the RRTC survey of state agencies for vocational rehabilitation, mental retardation/developmental disability, mental health, and welfare, and community rehabilitation providers in Years 2 and 3 to develop state-by-state profiles of employment services and the context of VR service delivery; (3) interviews VR directors of all 80 VR agencies in Years 2 and 3 to collect descriptive information about key characteristics related to operational and programmatic decisions, policies, and practices; (4) uses the Delphi Method in Years 3 through 5 to identify, evaluate, and describe best practices in the implementation of (a) Order of Selection policies and the prioritization of individuals with the most significant disabilities for VR services; (b) employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities; and (c) employment services for individuals with mental illnesses; (5) institutes a training and technical assistance agenda that uses Communities of Practice mechanisms to create interactive participant-driven opportunities for translation, information sharing, and policy development; and (6) widely disseminates products, curricula, and knowledge throughout the vocational rehabilitation system, employment services system, and to a wide array of disability and advocacy organizations. The RRTC develops a knowledge-base on VR that informs policy and practice at the federal, state, and local levels, encourages data-based decision-making, results in the development of a research base that future investigators can use for analyzing the consequences and outcomes of variations in State VR agencies’ internal arrangements and operations, documents best practices in detail, identifies their key features, and investigates their transferability into other contexts. The RRTC is a partnership of the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Center for the Study and Advancement of Disability Policy, and InfoUse, a woman-owned business.
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Please note: These abstracts have been modified. Full, unedited abstracts, as well as any available REHABDATA citations, are available at

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All of the currently and previously funded NIDRR projects are listed in the NIDRR Program Database. You can browse through the currently funded projects by priority or by program type (such as Research and Training Centers and Fellowships) at

Current Literature: Selections from REHABDATA

Smith, F., Gilmore, D. (2007) Employment rates for people with and without disabilities. Data Note 10. NARIC Accession Number: O16862. Project Number: H133A021503.
Abstract: Fact sheet compares the employment rate for working-age people with and without disabilities by state. The data shows that in 2005, employment rates for people with disabilities averaged from 37.4, whereas employment rates for people without disabilities averaged 74.4 percent. States that had a high employment rate for people without disabilities tended to also have a high employment rate for people with disabilities.
This document is available for download at

Smith, F., Gilmore, D. (2006) VR outcomes for people with spinal cord injury. Data Note 4. NARIC Accession Number: O16856. Project Number: H133A021503. Abstract: Fact sheet presents a profile of the employment outcomes of people with spinal cord injury (SCI) who used the vocational rehabilitation (VR) system in 2004. It compares consumers with SCI to those without SCI. Fewer people with SCI were successfully rehabilitated compared to the general VR population. However, people with SCI closed into integrated and supported employment earn more than those without SCI. People with SCI are less likely to be in supported employment and more likely to run their own businesses.
This document is available for download at

Chan, F., Cheing, G. (2006) Predicting employment outcomes of rehabilitation clients with orthopedic disabilities: A CHAID analysis. Disability and Rehabilitation, 28(5), 257-270. NARIC Accession Number: J50409. Project Number: H133A031705.
Abstract: Chi-squared automatic interaction detector (CHAID) analysis was used to determine factors influencing the employment rates of a group of vocational rehabilitation clients with orthopedic disabilities. The predictor variables included a set of personal history variables and rehabilitation service variables. Results indicated that job placement services significantly enhanced competitive employment outcomes but were significantly underutilized; only 25 percent of the clients received this service. Physical restoration and assistive technology services, along with support services such as counseling, also contributed to positive employment outcomes. Clients who received general assistance, supplemental security income, and/or social security disability insurance benefits had significantly lower employment rates than clients without such work disincentives. CHAID analysis provided detailed information about the interactions among demographic variables, service patterns, and competitive employment rates by sorting the clients into mutuallyexclusive homogeneous subgroups.

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Woodring, J., Foley, S. (2005) Employment outcomes for people with diabetes in the vocational rehabilitation system. Data Note 2. NARIC Accession Number: O16854. Project Number: H133A021503.
Abstract: Fact sheet presents a profile of the employment outcomes of people with diabetes who are using the vocational rehabilitation (VR) system. It compares consumers with diabetes to those without diabetes closed in 2003. People with diabetes are closed into integrated employment less often than people without diabetes. However, people with diabetes closed into integrated employment earn more than the general VR population, although mean weekly hours are about the same. People with diabetes are much less frequently closed into supported employment and they have higher rates of closure to homemaker of unpaid family worker status than those without diabetes.
This document is available for download at

Rosenthal, D., Chan, F. (2005) The effects of consumer characteristics and service patterns on vocational rehabilitation employment outcomes. Journal of Rehabilitation Administration, 29(4), 879-882. NARIC Accession Number: J50480. Project Number: H133A031705.
Abstract: Study used a data mining approach to examine the effects of gender, race, disability type, the receipt of financial benefits, and the vocational rehabilitation (VR) services received on employment outcomes of VR consumers. Data mining is defined as the extraction of hidden predictive information from large databases. Data for this study was extracted from the rehabilitation Services Administration Case Service Report for the fiscal year 2001. Analysis revealed that VR consumers with the highest percentages of successful employment had sensory impairment, had not received financial benefits such as Supplemental Security Insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance, had no transportation barriers, and received job placement services. Receiving job placement services was the most significant predictor of successful rehabilitation. Consumers who received job placement services had a significantly higher rate of employment (74 percent) than those who did not (47 percent).

Capella-McDonnall, M. (2005) Predictors of competitive employment for blind and visually impaired consumers of vocational rehabilitation services. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99(5), 303-315. NARIC Accession Number: J49162. Project Number: H133B010101.
Abstract: Study identified variables associated with successful employment outcomes of consumers of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services who were blind or visually impaired. Four variables were found to be predictors of successful employment: (1) the receipt of education as a rehabilitation services that resulted in an educational certificate or degree, (2) having worked since the onset of the disability, (3) reason for applying to VR related to obtaining a job, and (4) the relationship between the counselor and the consumer being rated as high quality. Kosciulek, J. (2004) Theory of informed consumer choice in vocational rehabilitation.

The Cochrane and Cambpell Collaborations conduct systematic reviews of interventions in the health care and social science fields respectively. On the subject of vocational rehabilitation, Cochrane lists 7 Cochrane reviews and 10 other reviews ( and Cambpell lists 2 reviews ( the Research

an open book

Rehabilitation Education, 18(1), 3-11. NARIC Accession Number: J50198. Project Number: H133B980040.
Abstract: Article presents the Theory of Informed Consumer Choice in Vocational Rehabilitation (ICC-VR) model for guiding the examination VR service delivery. The major tenets of the ICC-VR model are drawn from the principles of informed consumer choice. Informed choice is a process during which a person sets goals, gathers information, considers a range of options, and then takes responsibility for selecting the option that best meets his or her criteria. The primary thesis is that increased consumer choice in the VR process will lead to enhanced employment outcomes.

Hagen-Foley, D., Menz, F. (2004) Community-based rehabilitation: Research for improving employment outcomes conference. NARIC Accession Number: O15877. Project Number: H133B980040.
Abstract: Document includes papers, panel summaries, and lessons learned from a conference conducted by the Research and Training Center (RTC) at the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute. The mission of the RTC is to assist community-based rehabilitation programs in their efforts to increase employment rates for people with disabilities through research, development, demonstration, training, dissemination, technical assistance, and networking. The conference theme was: “Research is about increasing outcomes achieved by people, systems, and practice.” Appendices include a copy of the agenda and a list of participants.

Where Can I Find More? A quick keyword search is all you need to connect to a wealth of disability and rehabilitation research. NARIC’s databases hold more than 75,000 resources. Visit to search for literature, current and past research projects, and organizations and agencies in the US and abroad.