Interventions to Improve the Labour Market Situation of Adults with Physical and/or Sensory Disabilities in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Peer-reviewed article
(2015 Dec) Campbell Systematic Reviews, 11 1-27


Janice Tripney, Alan Roulstone, Carol Vigurs, Nina Hogrebe, Elena Schmidt, Ruth Stewart


The objectives of this Campbell systematic review were:

1)To describe the range and diversity of interventions available for addressing the low labour market participation of adults with physical and/or sensory disabilities in developing country contexts.

2)To systematically identify, assess, and synthesise the evidence on the effects of interventions on labour market outcomes for disabled adults in low- and middleincome countries. As part of this, to critically analyse the evidence along the causal chain framework, linking interventions with intermediate outcomes and final impacts, and document the level/strength of evidence on potential pathways of impact using the framework.

3)To assess if effects are moderated by characteristics of the participants, interventions, and/or settings.

4)To provide an explanation for the intervention effects by examining what participants in the included studies reported about why the interventions did, or did not, work for them.

A total of 14 studies met the eligibility criteria. Publication dates of included studies ranged between 1992 and 2012, with six studies published in the four-year period 2010-2013. A key finding of this review is the overall scarcity of robust evidence, as indicated by the relatively few studies that met the inclusion criteria. Although the evidence in general showed positive results, we need to be wary of drawing strong inferences from the findings of this body of literature. Not only is the number of impact evaluations limited, but most used designs in which conclusively attributing causality is not possible.

Our assessment of the evidence does not allow us to develop practical suggestions on what interventions are likely to work, for whom, and when. Clearly, there is an urgent need for investment in high quality impact evaluations of interventions to support people with disabilities in accessing the labour market in low- and middle income settings. To build the evidence base further, it is therefore important that many more of the interventions currently in existence in low- and middle-income countries are rigorously evaluated, and the results are reported and disseminated widely. The methodological inconsistencies and weaknesses of the current evidence base, and specific knowledge gaps, suggest a number of future research priorities.

Livelihood & Social Protection