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Soc Sci Med. 2012 Oct;75(8):1505-13. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.06.010. Epub 2012 Jul 4.

Geographic variation in participation for physically disabled adults: the contribution of area economic factors to employment after spinal cord injury.

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  • 1Kessler Foundation Research Center, West Orange, NJ, USA.


This study investigates the role of area economic characteristics in predicting employment-a key aspect of social participation for adults with physical disabilities-using data from a national registry of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). SCI results in chronic impairment and most commonly occurs during young adulthood when working is a key aspect of the adult social role. Geocoded data were collected from two of the 14 SCI Model Systems (SCIMS) centers involved in the National SCIMS database and used to link individual-level data with area-level measures extracted from the 2000 US Census. The analysis included participants of working-age (18-64 years) and living in the community (N=1013). Hierarchical generalized linear modeling was used to estimate area-level variation in participation and the relative contribution of area-level economic indicators, adjusted for individual-level health, functioning, and background characteristics. The likelihood of employment for adults with SCI varied by area and was associated with area SES and urbanicity, but not area unemployment. These findings suggest that variation in area economic conditions may affect the feasibility of employment for persons who experience chronic physical disability during adulthood, thus limiting full participation in society.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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