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Benefits and Costs of Supported Employment Services over a Long Period of Time

Categories: Employment

The Question

How do the benefits of supported employment programs compare with the costs for individuals with traumatic brain injuries over a long period of time?

Past Studies

Past Studies demonstrate that individuals with traumatic brain injury can experience difficulty obtaining work after injury and maintaining employment over time. Supported employment services can assist persons with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment. Supported employment enables a person with a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury to be paid to do “real” work in a “real” work setting with coworkers without disabilities. A job specialist (or job coach) assists with finding employment and providing or coordinating on-the-job skill training or employment setting modifications. Supported employment services are individualized and available throughout a person’s job to ensure a successful work experience. Research has not examined the long-term costs of supported employment for persons with traumatic brain injuries.

This Study

This Study focused on 59 individuals with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries who were referred to supported employment services. Data regarding their work experiences was collected for 14 years. The researchers found that on the average, these participants were employed for approximately 3.5 years, earned $5.25 per hour or gross earnings of about $26,000 per year, and had about $10,350 in supported employment services costs. The participants earned an average of $17,515 more than the costs of their supported employment programs. The researchers found that the long-term economic value of supported employment programs for persons with traumatic brain injuries exceeded the costs.

Who May Be Affected By These Findings

Persons with traumatic brain injuries and their families, job specialists, policy makers, healthcare providers, and researchers  


The authors state that future research should analyze the relationship between an individual’s functional abilities and length of employment. Such an analysis may determine if individuals with lower functional abilities work for shorter lengths of time,if individuals with higher functional abilities work for longer lengths of time, and if individuals who work for longer lengths of time earn more money.

Bottom Line

It appears that over time, the financial benefits for persons with traumatic brain injuries are greater than the costs of supported employment services. The costs of supported employment services appear to decrease over time. The authors encourage recognition of the other benefits of employment as well, such as increased self-esteem, community integration, socialization, and workplace integration.

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Find This Study

Wehman, P.; Kregel, J.; Keyser-Marcus, L.; Sherron-Targett, P.; Campbell, L.; West, M.; & Cifu, D. X. (2003). Supported Employment for persons with traumatic brain injury: A preliminary investigation of long-term follow-up costs and program efficacy.Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, (84), 192-196.


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