Quality of life and the work environment: The relationship between integration in the work environment and quality of life as perceived by individuals with mental retardation
Winer, John Joseph
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This study examined the effects of integrated work on the perceived quality of life within and between two types of work environments and one non-work environment, for people with mental retardation. It was hypothesized that the quality of life perceived by these individuals increased as integration into the work environment increased. The Quality of Life Questionnaire (Schalock & Keith, 1993) was administered to a non-random, purposive sample of sixty Orthodox Jewish people with mild to moderate mental retardation (twenty in each environment: supported employment, sheltered employment and day habilitation). The data were collected through self-report interviews and analyzed at multiple levels. Characteristics of the sample were described using univariate analyses. Bivariate analyses were applied. Differences between genders were measured using t-tests. Respondents' age, IQ, and level of retardation were each correlated perceived quality of life. An analysis of variance was carried out to see if a difference in perceived quality of life for the different levels of integration into the work environment existed. Multiple regression analysis was used to identify predictors that were significantly related to quality of life for the sample.;The study adds to the developing body of information regarding quality of life by demonstrating a difference in perceived quality of life not only between people who attend integrated work programs and those who do not, but also between people attending non-integrated programs. The study confirmed the hypotheses that the quality of life perceived by the individual with mild to moderate mental retardation would increase as the individual's integration into the work environment increases; that respondents with mental retardation in the mild to moderate range in supported employment win exhibit greater feelings of life satisfaction than those in sheltered work or non-work environments; that respondents with mental retardation in the mild to moderate range working in supported employment will report being more competent in their tasks than those working in sheltered work or non-work environments.;Income was revealed as important to perceived quality of life, while gender and age discrimination were exposed, suggesting that work programs need to be geared towards men and women of all ages.