To explore work outcomes, vocational services, barriers and facilitators for returning to work in individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI) in Queensland, Australia and to identify areas for improvement.
Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals with ABI (stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumour). Interviews were analysed using a realist thematic analysis approach.
Participants either returned to the same work, different work, did not maintain work or did not have any work since their injury. Use of vocational services depended on participants’ needs and insurance. Facilitators for return to work (RTW) were a supportive workplace and family, vocational rehabilitation that met the individual’s needs, insurance coverage and self-motivation. Workplaces that were not understanding of brain injury, employment service providers who were unable to find work for participants, and physical and cognitive deficits were barriers to RTW. Workplaces, employment service providers and individuals require more information about the deficits associated with brain injury.
The use and effectiveness of vocational services were variable across participants and depended on insurance coverage and needs. Barriers and facilitators for RTW were affected by both the environment and the individual. Implications for vocational rehabilitation were identified.Implications for RehabilitationA supportive workplace and family, and access to appropriate vocational rehabilitation are important environmental facilitators for RTW in individuals with ABI.Workplaces with a poor understanding of ABI and employment service providers unable to find work for individuals with ABI are environmental barriers to RTW.Workplaces, employment service providers and individuals with ABI require more information about the physical and cognitive deficits associated with ABI.Employment service providers need more training to develop comprehensive strategies to help individuals with ABI find new employment.