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Supported employment for persons with traumatic brain injury: a preliminary investigation of long-term follow-up costs and program efficiency.

by Wehman, P., Kregel, J., Keyser-Marcus, L., Sherron-Targett, P., Campbell, L., West, M., Cifu, D.X.

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the long-term follow-up costs of supported employment as well as the wage and employment characteristics for individuals with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) who participated in supported employment services over a 14-year time period.

DESIGN: Longitudinal design with prospectively collected data.

SETTING: A university-based supported employment program that uses the individual placement model of supported employment.

PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-nine individuals with moderate to severe TBI who were consecutively referred for supported employment services. The sample was restricted to individuals who were placed into a least 1 supported employment position during the study period.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Data were collected on clients placed into at least 1 competitive supported employment position from 1985 to 1999. Analyses were performed to examine the costs of supported employment, employment characteristics (eg, wages, length of employment), and benefit-cost ratios of supported employment for individuals with TBI.

RESULTS: The average length of employment for the current sample was 42.58 months. Average gross earnings were US dollars 26,129.74 for individuals during their entire duration of employment. Billing charges accrued for employment services averaged US dollars 10,349.37. Individuals with TBI earned an average of US dollars 17,515 more than the costs associated with their supported employment.

CONCLUSIONS: Our investigation provides additional support for the conclusion that supported employment is cost effective for individuals with disabilities, including individuals with TBI, and that the costs of supported employment decrease over time.

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