Document Type

Research Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



People with disabilities are employed at a rate of 36.9%, compared to 79.7% for people without disabilities (Erickson & Lee, 2008). Lack of accessible transportation, social insurance disincentives, and negative attitudes by employers are cited reasons for this disparity. People with disabilities also describe secondary health conditions as a barrier to employment (Ipsen, Seekins, & Arnold, in press; Kaye, 2009). Secondary conditions are health issues that are intensified by primary disability, including conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue, pressure sores, weight problems, and depression. Because access to health promotion programs typically occurs at the worksite, it’s troublesome that secondary conditions are a significant barrier to employment. Literature reviews about worksite-based health promotion consistently show significant health improvements for participants, including less absenteeism and less medical care use. These positive outcomes are most pronounced for employees with multiple health risk factors (Pelletier, 1996, 2001, 2005). Programs targeting people with disabilities report similar outcomes. For instance, participation in the Living Well with a Disability program was associated with significant reductions in rates of reported secondary health conditions and days of limitation (Ravesloot, Seekins, & White, 2005). The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of a health promotion program in enhancing health and employment outcomes for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) clients. We hypothesized that participation in the Working Well with a Disability program would result in reduced rates of secondary health conditions and increased rates of employment.


©2010 RTC:Rural.

Granting Agency

Centers for Disease Control


Our research is supported by grant #RO1DD000135 from the Centers for Disease Control and by grant #H133B080023 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S, Department of Education.

Project Number