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Economic participation and employment research for people with autism, cognitive and psychosocial disability

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posted on 2021-05-26, 01:09 authored by ANNE KAVANAGHANNE KAVANAGH, HELEN DICKINSON, CLAUDIA MARCKCLAUDIA MARCK, Isabelle Weld-BlundellIsabelle Weld-Blundell, SHELLEY MALLETT, Diane Brown

About two thirds of all NDIS participants of working age have intellectual disability, autism and/or psychosocial disability. One of the aims of the NDIS is to give people with disability the same opportunities to work as other Australians including people with intellectual disability, autism and/or psychosocial disability.

This research was commissioned by the NDIA to help them understand how they can best support people with intellectual disability, autism, and/or psychosocial disability to work towards their employment goals. It involved reviewing journal articles and reports to see what employment programs help people with autism, intellectual disability and/or psychosocial disability to find and keep a job, and where more research is needed.

What did the research involve?

The research included four parts and each report is available to download below. They include:

  1. A review of how employment programs are described.
  2. A structured review of national and international trials of employment programs to find out which programs work best.
  3. Identification of current employment programs in Australia.
  4. Interviews with academics and senior government and non-government staff working in employment for people with disability.
  5. Mapping the evidence


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The Systematic Review and Environmental Scan: Part 1, were designed to identify the state of research and evaluation and the extent and quality of the empirical evidence base however they yield different types of evidence.

The Systematic Review assessed interventions implemented as randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with a range of different comparator populations. Because people are allocated to an intervention randomly the outcome does not depend on pre-existing differences between the intervention and comparison populations, which may occur if people simply ‘opt in’ to an intervention. The Systematic Review provides information about the extent of the evidence base from RCTs and its quality.

The Environmental Scan Part 1 provides information about the extent of research and evaluation in the field and the types and quality of the Australian evaluations using meta-evaluation tools. Typically, evaluations are considered a ‘weaker’ form of evidence because many do not have comparison populations and/or people self-select or opt into being part of a program or intervention. This means we cannot be sure whether differences in outcomes are due to the characteristics of people who take up a particular intervention or the intervention itself. However, when interventions are multi-faceted and individualised, they are challenging, and often unsuitable, to evaluate through an RCT.

Technical reports from the Systematic Review, Environmental Scan Parts 1 and 2 (Mallett, Brown and Finnis, 2021) provide a detailed account of the methods and findings. Report details are listed above.

Funding

NDIA Economic Participation and Employment project

Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health

National Health and Medical Research Council

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