Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Geography (Cartography and GIS Option)

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Dr. Christiane von Reichert

Commitee Members

Dr. Jeremy Sage, Ms. Lillie Greiman, Dr. Catherine Ipsen


geography, disability, employment, mountain west, community resources, social determinants of health


University of Montana


This study examines the relationship between community resources and disability employment rate in the Mountain West. It draws on the five categories of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) as defined by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) (2020) to select community resource variables. The determinants include: economic resources, health and health care, social and community context, infrastructure, and education. While there has been a good deal of work to understand how the SDOH can influence health outcomes, there has been little exploration of the influence that the SDOH has on employment outcomes for persons with disabilities (Frier et al. 2018). Studying community resources at the county level across the Mountain West provides insight into how spatial variation can impact employment of persons with disabilities. I used a hierarchical linear regression to examine the relationship between community resources and disability employment rate while controlling for socio-demographic factors and the rural-urban status of counties. This study found that four of five SDOH categories had a significant variable associated with disability employment rate. Significant community resource variables were: financial sector establishments, non-profit hospitals, rental vacancy rate, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) units, internet subscriptions, and education attainment. Results suggest that SDOH resources have an effect on rates of disability employment at the county level.



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