Its meaning and importance
For most people with disability, work is both meaningful and important. Common themes across all types of disability include work being a source of identity, feelings of normality, financial support, and socialization. These meanings were found to be both motivating for return to work and health promoting. For some, the meaning and values relating to work change after disability and new meaning at home or in modified work replace the old and contribute to new identity.
As paid work is the occupation that people spend the most amount of their time doing, it is an important provider of personal meaning in their lives. This meaning has been shown to vary from person to person and to be important to health and wellbeing.
When a person is unable to work due to a disabling condition, it is unclear whether this meaning remains or is replaced by other meanings. The purpose of this scoping review was to explore what was known in the existing literature on what work means to those with work disability.
The review involved identifying and selecting relevant studies, charting the data and collating and summarizing the results.
Fifty-two studies explored the meaning of work for those with cancer, mental illness, musculoskeletal disorders, brain injuries, paraplegia, and AIDS. The studies revealed that, for most, work continued to be meaningful and important. Common themes across all types of disability included work being a source of identity, feelings of normality, financial support, and socialization. These meanings were found to be both motivating for return to work and health promoting.
Conversely, a small number of studies found that the meanings and values ascribed to work changed following disability. New meanings, found either at home or in modified work, replaced the old and contributed to new identities.
The exploration of the meaning of work has been shown to provide important understanding of the experience of work and disability. This understanding can guide rehabilitation professionals in their interventions with the work disabled.
SOURCE: J Occup Rehabil. 2013 Mar 22. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 23519737 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
What Work Means to People with Work Disability: A Scoping Review.
Saunders SL, Nedelec B.
School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University, 3654 Promenade Sir William Osler, Montreal, QC, H3G 1Y5, Canada, [email protected].