People with an intellectual disability value work as a significant part of their lives, and many of them want to participate in regular paid employment. Current estimates show that the number of people with ID who have some form of paid employment are very low, ranging from 9 to 40 % across different countries, despite legislations. This review examines papers published in the past 20 years in an attempt to answer the following research question: 'What work environment-related factors contribute to obtaining or maintaining work in competitive employment for people with an intellectual disability?'
The databases of PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase and Web of Science were searched for relevant papers published between 1993 and 2013. All papers were independently screened by two researchers. Methodological quality of the studies was evaluated, and data on work environment-related factors stimulating employment for people with intellectual disabilities were extracted and grouped into categories.
A total of 1932 articles were retrieved. After extensive screening for relevance and quality, 26 articles were included in this review. Four themes/categories with work environment-related factors that could influence work participation were distinguished. Five studies were conducted on employers' decisions and opinions. Eight focused on job content and performance, and eight on workplace interaction and culture. Five studies evaluated support by job coaches.
Despite ongoing legislation to promote participation of people with intellectual disabilities in the paid workforce, research in this area is still extremely scarce. In the past 20 years, very few studies have focused on work environment-related factors that can enhance competitive work for people with intellectual disabilities. This review shows that relevant work environment-related factors for obtaining and maintaining work in competitive employment include supporting the employers by paying specific attention to: employer's decisions, job content, integration and work culture and job coaches.