Employment outcomes following spinal cord injury: a population-based cross-sectional study in Australia

Employment outcomes following spinal cord injury: a population-based cross-sectional study in Australia

Published 17th May 2021

Borg, S.J., Geraghty, T., Arora, M. et al. 

Study Design: Self-reported cross-sectional data for the Australian cohort participating in the International Spinal Cord Injury Community survey.

Objectives: To contextualise post-injury employment for people with spinal cord injury (SCI) in Australia, including work participation rates, time to resuming work, underemployment and pre- and post-SCI employment changes.

Setting: Australian survey data from four state-wide SCI services, one government insurance agency and three not-for-profit consumer organisations across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

Methods: Data were analysed from 1579 participants with SCI who are at least 1-year post discharge from an inpatient facility. Survey measures included 16-items dedicated to employment. Pre- and post-injury job titles were based on the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-08) major classification. A mix of chi-squared, t-test and negative binomial regression were used to analyse data.

Results: The absolute post-injury employment rate was 49.9%, with one-third of the sample currently working. Pre-injury employment and engagement with vocational rehabilitation resulted in higher employment rates. Individuals who were unable to return immediately following inpatient rehabilitation took mean 28 months (SD, 35.9) to return. Time to employment was significantly lengthier for those without pre-injury jobs, at 59.7 months [SD, 43.8] (p < 0.001). Engagement in less manual roles increased post-injury, accounting for three quarters of post-SCI jobs. Underemployment was identified by 16.6% of those currently working.

Conclusions: While there are current services and programmes in place in Australia that support post-injury employment, findings indicate a need for more comprehensive early intervention focused services targeted towards employers and individuals.


Publication Type

Journal Article