From margins to mainstream: what do we know about work integration for persons with brain injury, mental illness and intellectual disability?
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Employment is a right of citizenship and a social determinant of health, but employment rates remain low for persons with disabilities. The purpose of this paper is to examine the principles and practices guiding work integration within the fields of intellectual disability (ID), brain injury, and mental illness and to identify best practices to support transitions to employment across these three groups. This integrative review drew upon an occupational perspective to analyze the current literature. Findings reveal that the need and benefits of working are recognized across disability groups but that philosophical perspectives guiding work integration differ. In the area of mental illness, recovery is seen as a process within which work plays an important role, in ID work is viewed as a planned outcome that is part of the developmental process, and in the field of brain injury, outcomes of employability and employment are emphasized. A common theme across the three disability groups is that in order to facilitate work integration, the person, the job and the work environment are important factors in need of examination. Evidence pointing to the effectiveness of the supported employment model is increasing across these three populations. A framework for guiding the development of further research and for promoting changes to support work integration is presented.
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