Online resources supporting workers with chronic episodic disabilities: an environmental scan

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Van Eerd, D., Bowring, J., Jetha, A., Breslin, F.C. and Gignac, M.A.M.

International Journal of Workplace Health Management 2021; 14(2): 129-148

Published: December 2020


Purpose: The purpose of this research was to conduct an environmental scan describing publicly available resources focussed on working with an episodic disability and providing information and advice about communication and accommodation to support working people living with episodic disabilities.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted an environmental scan of English language, freely available, online resources relevant to episodic disabilities in the workplace. The authors used Googleâ„¢ to conduct structured keyword searches. Resources were reviewed and data extracted about episodic health condition(s) addressed, intended audience(s), resource format and content about health, legal rights, workplace issues, and accommodation and communication needs.

Findings: Searches yielded 5,300 links to websites which was supplemented by 101 links identified by partners. Screening for relevance found 210 resources for which data were extracted. Of them, 158 addressed specific episodic disabilities or episodic disabilities generally. Most resources provided useful information addressing communication and accommodation of episodic disability. However, information specific to the episodic nature of disability was not consistently available. The resources generally lacked interactivity which could potentially limit users in applying the information to their personal circumstances.

Practical implications: The findings suggest there are good resources to help workers and managers/supervisors navigate accommodations for episodic disabilities. Research should aim to improve the interactivity of information to personalize resources to worker and workplace needs, as well as formally evaluate resources and their outcomes. Practitioners may wish to recommend resources that specifically address workplace challenges for their clients.