How does employment influence health outcomes? A systematic review of the intellectual disability literature

Peer-reviewed article
(2014 Aug) Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 49 1-13


Dean, E. E., Shogren, K. A., Hagiwara, M., & Wehmeyer, M. L



Employment is an important aspect of participation for adults with intellectual disability. In the general population, working adults experience better health (mental health and quality of life) outcomes than adults who do not work. However, we know little about the health effects of employment on people with intellectual disability.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to review current literature to understand what is known about the health and quality of life outcomes of employment for adults with intellectual disability.

METHODS: Researchers searched the intellectual disability literature for articles investigating the relationship between employment and either health or quality of life. A total of 429 articles were found and systematically evaluated. Fourteen articles were included in the study.

RESULTS: There is a very limited amount of research that has focused on health outcomes of employment for adults with intellectual disability. Findings generally point to a positive relationship between employment and quality of life, and employment and mental health, which is in line with results from studies in the general population.

CONCLUSIONS:A tenuous relationship exists between employment, health, and quality of life. More research is needed to determine the extent of the relationship.

Livelihood & Social Protection