Research on Employment Supports for People with Disabilities: Summary of the Focus Group Findings. CHARACTERISTICS OF FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANTS

Of the 575 individuals who responded to the study's solicitation efforts, 214 individuals were screened out of the study. The most prevalent reasons for screening out were unemployment, insufficient earnings, disability onset after first work experience, lack of a significant disability, or residence out of the catchment area. The majority of the Newark respondents who screened out were disqualified because they were not currently employed. In Seattle/Tacoma and Los Angeles, however, the majority of the respondents who screened out were disqualified because of insufficient earnings.

A total of 284 individuals participated in approximately 45 focus groups and about two dozen individual interviews across the three sites (104 in Los Angeles, 72 in Newark, and 108 in Seattle/Tacoma).6 Below we summarize the characteristics of focus group participants by site, and by impairment category. Cross-site variation in characteristics reflects variation in the populations living in the sites, but might also reflect variation in the recruitment process. We cannot assume that each sites sample is representative of the population in the site that meets the screening criteria.

We intended to construct focus group so that distribution by impairment within the focus groups reflected approximately the distribution of impairments of the underlying population. However, the distribution of impairments within the pool of eligible participants made this impossible. Exhibit 1 summarizes the distribution of impairments among focus group participants compared to the distribution of impairments in the underlying population.

Exhibit 1. Distribution of Impairments
Impairment United States1 Focus Groups
Number Percent Number Percent
Cognitive 449,000 2.4 49 17.3
Communication 508,000 2.7 60 21.1
Mental Illness 925,000 4.9 54 19.0
Mobility 8,269,000 44.2 91 32.0
Other Chronic Illness 8,577,000 45.8 23 8.1
Not Identified 0 0.0 7 2.5
All Conditions 18,728,000 100.0 284 100.0
  1. Prevalence of chronic impairment causing work limitation, ages 18-69, 1992 NHIS. Source: LaPlante and Carlson (1996) Table 7a.