Document Type

Research Progress Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Economics | Labor Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Health is important to securing and maintaining employment, but for many low-income or unemployed people access to health promotion programs is limited. This is a problem for many people with disabilities who do not work and who rely on Medicare or Medicaid to cover their healthcare costs. Without access to programs that promote health and reduce secondary conditions, people with disabilities may find it difficult to get a job or stay employed. This may be a factor in this group’s persistently high unemployment rates. Participation in worksite health promotion programs has been shown to (1) increase employee productivity through reduced absenteeism rates, and (2) reduce health-related insurance claims (Aldana, 2001; Pelletier, 2001). Evidence further suggests that worksite health promotion is most beneficial for individuals with multiple health risk factors (Aldana, 2001) that parallel many of the most prevalent secondary conditions experienced by people with disabilities. Some of these risk factors include weight problems, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol. Secondary conditions occur as a result of, or in conjunction with, a primary disabling condition; and most secondary conditions are amenable to health promotion activities (Ravesloot, et al., 2003). Past research conducted by RTC: Rural has shown that participation in the Living Well with a Disability health promotion program reduced the prevalence of secondary conditions by an average of 25%; significantly increased healthy behaviors such as exercise and proper nutrition; and reduced acute health care expenditures (Ravesloot, et al., 2003). This research, however, did not address the relationship between health promotion and employment. This brief report provides a preliminary look at the relationship among health behaviors, secondary conditions, and employment outcomes for people with disabilities.


employment and vocation rehabilitation, working well with a disability, health promotion, health and wellness, health self-management, secondary conditions, rural, disability


© 2004 RTC:Rural.

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


Our research is supported by grant #H133B030501from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Dept. of Education.

Project Number