WCPT Africa Region Conference System, 9th WCPT Africa Region Congress

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Joyce Diphale Mothabeng

Last modified: 2012-02-07


Background: Employment is considered one of the most meaningful measures of successful rehabilitation for people living with spinal cord injuries. The literature suggests that return to work and employment rates are low after spinal cord injury (SCI).However, very limited literature on the employment of people living with spinal cord injuries (PLWSCI) exist in less-industrialized and developing countries, making employment statistics for PLWSCI virtually non-existent in such countries, including South Africa.

Purpose:  To determine the factors related to the employment of people living with spinal cord injury (PLWSCI) in the Tshwane Metropolitan Area, Gauteng province, South Africa.

Methods: Secondary analysis of socio-demographic data from a major cross sectional study investigating participation outcomes following spinal cord injury was conducted. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics; chi square tests of independence and ANOVA to identify the most significant correlates of employment.

Results: Data from 160 participants were analysed. Out of the 160 participants, 91 (56.9%) were employed before the SCI, while only 41 (25.6 %) were employed at the time of the study. Employment was found to be significantly associated with residential area [c2(2) = 20.5, p < 0.001], previous employment [c2 (2) = 4.3, p < 0.05], education level [c2(1) = 4.3, p < 0.05], and race [c2 (2) = 4.3, P < 0.05].  Age and gender were not significantly associated with employment.

Conclusion: Employment is an area in which people with SCI experience particular participation restrictions. This study found that the employment of PLWSCI was low (25.6%) and was influenced by a number of non-modifiable socio-demographic factors, which are not amenable to rehabilitation interventions.  It is therefore important that the rehabilitation process prepares PLWSCI for employment and/or return to work. Rehabilitation professionals also need to advocate as much as possible and lobby other stakeholders for the (re)employment of PLWSCI, in order to enhance community participation and quality of life.

Keywords: Spinal cord injuries, rehabilitation, outcomes, employment

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