Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Krause, J. S., Edles, P., & Charlifue, S. (2011). Changes in employment status and earnings after spinal cord injury: A pilot comparison from pre- to post-injury. Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, 16 (4), 74-79.
Title:  Changes in employment status and earnings after spinal cord injury: A pilot comparison from pre- to post-injury
Authors:  Krause, J. S., Edles, P., & Charlifue, S.
Year:  2011
Journal/Publication:  Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
Publisher:  Thomas Land Publishers, Inc.
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes
Research design:  Survey research

Structured abstract:

Background:  The direct costs in medical care after a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) can be very high and extreme in some cases. In addition to that direct cost there is also the indirect cost in lost employment status and future earnings. Past research has shown the indirect cost of SCI in terms of lost earnings to be anywhere on average from $12, 726-$31, 308 per year. Recent research into the area has been lacking.
Purpose:  This study aims to identify changes in employment status and earnings among a group of SCI patients ranging from 1 to 10 years post injury.
Setting:  Participants were recruited from three SCI specialty hospitals in eastern, southeastern, and mountain regions of the United States.
Study sample:  Participants (N=515) generally followed the same demographic associated with SCI. Nearly 80% (79.8%) of the sample was male, seventy percent were white non-Hispanic, 20.7% were black non-Hispanic, and 7.3% were Hispanic white or black. The average age of the sample was 36.1 years. Participants averaged 3.8 years post injury.
Control or comparison condition:  Employment status and post SCI earnings were collected at time of injury and compared to the follow up collection of that data.
Data collection and analysis:  Descriptive statistics were used to summarize pre and post injury outcomes. Earnings losses were calculated by subtracting post injury earnings from pre injury earnings.
Findings:  The majority of participants (83.3%) were working at the time of the SCI onset. Among the participants not working 6.2% were unemployed, 6.2% were in school, 1.9% were retired, 1.9% were disabled, and 0.4% were homemakers. The most frequently reported income range among participants was $35,000-$49,999 per year. Only 24.5% of participants were gainfully employed at the follow up and 22.7% of participants were unemployed. Of the employed participants 60.8% were working at their pre injury employer. Of the remaining participants 38.1% were disabled, 8.7% were in school, 4.9% were retired, and 1.2% were homemakers. Among participants who were employed at the follow up 48.6% were earning $50,000 or greater per year.
Conclusions:  A significant decrease in earnings and employment status was seen following the SCI. As much effort as possible should be made on the part of vocational rehab counselors to work with employers so that SCI patients can return to their pre injury jobs.

Disabilities served:  Spinal cord injury (SCI)