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Disabil Rehabil. 2016;38(7):627-36. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2015.1055378. Epub 2015 Jun 16.

Keeping up appearances: the role of identity concealment in the workplace among adults with degenerative eye conditions and its relationship with wellbeing and career outcomes.

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a Department of Sociology , Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS), University of Groningen , Groningen , The Netherlands .
b Healthy Ageing, Population and Society (HAPS), University of Groningen , Groningen , The Netherlands , and.
c Department of Health Psychology University Medical Center Groningen , Groningen , The Netherlands.



This study aims to describe the interplay between the work trajectories and the passing patterns of individuals with degenerative eye conditions in different phases of their career, as well as the disease progression and the career and well-being outcomes associated with different works and passing trajectories.


Qualitative interviews on the topic of work trajectories were conducted with 36 working or retired individuals with degenerative eye conditions. The "bigger picture" method was used to explore passing and concealment behavioral patterns, and their associations with various work trajectories.


Five patterns of passing and concealment behavior in the workplace were identified and were linked with various work trajectories among visually impaired study participants: (1) no career adjustments, concealed condition throughout career; (2) revealed condition after adjusting career plans; (3) increasingly open about their condition over the course of their career; (4) engaged in career planning, always open about their condition; and (5) engaged in limited career planning, always open about their condition.


Patterns characterized by less planning and more identity concealment were associated with more stress and lower levels of self-acceptance, while patterns characterized by more planning for vision deterioration and less passing behavior were associated with higher levels self-acceptance and fewer obstacles over the course of an individual's career. The study's findings can serve as a guide for health professionals.


Many individuals with degenerative eye conditions try to conceal their identity as visually impaired in the professional setting. Different aspects of career outcomes (e.g. age of retirement) and wellbeing outcomes (e.g. self-acceptance and stress) associate with identity concealment patterns of individuals throughout their careers. Identifying concealment patterns will allow health professionals to tackle particular adverse outcomes and challenges associated with these patterns.


Careers; degenerative eye conditions; qualitative; vision; work

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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