Multi-Phase Veteran Engagement to Develop a Spinal Cord Injury Employment Survey

Online Publication Date:
March 6, 2022
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:
Manuscript PDF File:

**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 17.1. All rights reserved.** ABSTRACT Background: Spinal cord injury is a condition that adversely impacts employment and economic stability. The Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey (KFNEDS) was developed to understand the experience of striving to work among persons with disabilities. However, this survey was not intended to capture the employment experiences of Veterans living with spinal cord injury. The aim of this study was to engage Veterans living with a spinal cord injury to adapt the KFNEDS for Veterans living with this specific disability. Objectives: Describe the process and outcomes of actively engaging Veterans living with spinal cord injury in the revision of the KFNEDS. Methods: In this multi-phase qualitative study, we used an iterative Veteran-centered approach to engage Veterans living with an SCI in all project phases. We consulted with a Veterans’ hospital’s Veteran Engagement Group (VEG) and convened a study-specific Community Action Board (CAB) to engage in a collaborative partnership with the research team. We recruited 17 Veterans living with a spinal cord injury, employed or looking for employment since their spinal cord injury, to participate in focus groups and cognitive interviews that informed the adaptation of the KFNEDS-VS. Results: A provisional version of the KFNEDS-VS included 37 survey questions in the following sections: Disability Screen (DSCR); Employment Screen (ESCR); Disability (DIS); Employment Overall (EO); Looking for Work (LW); At Work (AW); Workplace Accommodations and Supports (WA). Revisions included wording changes for clarity, Veteran and spinal cord injury-specific content that was missing from the questions or response options, and removal of irrelevant questions. Conclusions: Engaging Veterans in multiple phases of the study lead to the development of a relevant survey that captures the lived experience of Veterans seeking, obtaining, and maintaining employment following spinal cord injury.