Employment Among People With Spinal Cord Injury in 22 Countries Across the World: Results From the International Spinal Cord Injury Community Survey

InSCI, Marcel W. Post*, Jan D. Reinhardt, Merce Avellanet, Reuben Escorpizo, Julia P. Engkasan, Urban Schwegler, Annelie Schedin Leiulfsrud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objectives: To describe the employment situation of individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) in 22 countries participating in the International Spinal Cord Injury community survey, to compare observed and predicted employment rates, to estimate gaps in employment rates among people with SCI compared with the general population, and to study differences in employment between men and women.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Community.

Participants: People of employable age (N=9875; 18-64 y) with traumatic or non-traumatic SCI (including cauda equina syndrome) who were at least 18 years of age at the time of the survey, living in the community, and able to respond to one of the available language versions of the questionnaire.

Interventions: Not applicable

Main Outcome Measures: The observed employment rate was defined as performing paid work for at least 1 hour a week, and predicted employment rate was adjusted for sample composition from mixed logistic regression analysis.

Results: A total of 9875 participants were included (165-1174 per country). Considerable differences in sample composition were found. The observed worldwide employment rate was 38%. A wide variation was found across countries, ranging from 10.3% to 61.4%. Some countries showed substantially higher or lower employment rates than predicted based on the composition of their sample. Gaps between the observed employment rates among participants with SCI and the general population ranged from 14.8% to 54.8%. On average, employment rates were slightly higher among men compared with women, but with large variation across countries. Employment gaps, however, were smaller among women for most countries.

Conclusions: This first worldwide survey among people with SCI shows an average employment rate of 38%. Differences between observed and predicted employment rates across countries point at country-specific factors that warrant further investigation. Gaps with employment rates in the general population were considerable and call for actions for more inclusive labor market policies in most of the countries investigated. (C) 2020 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2157-2166
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020


  • Employment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord diseases
  • Spinal cord injuries

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