Eric Emerson, Ph.D., Maina Kariuki, M.Sc., Anne Honey, Ph.D., Gwynnyth Llewellyn, Ph.D.
Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney, Australia
Very few population-based studies have investigated the association between the onset of health conditions/impairments associated with disability and subsequent well-being.
To examine the association between the onset of disability and four indicators of well-being (full-time engagement in employment or education, financial hardship, social support, subjective well-being) among a nationally representative sample of Australian adolescents and young adults.
Secondary analysis of the first eight waves (2001–2008) of the survey of Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia.
For financial hardship and subjective well-being, the majority of participants belonged to trajectory classes for which there was no evidence that the onset of disability was associated with a subsequent lowering of well-being. For participation in employment and education, the majority of participants belonged to trajectory classes for which there was evidence of a modest immediate reduction in participation rates followed by subsequent stability. For social support, the majority of participants belonged to trajectory classes for which there was evidence of a modest temporary reduction in support followed by rebound back to initial levels. Membership of classes associated with poorer outcomes was associated with a number of covariates including: male gender; younger age of disability onset; being born overseas; not living with both parents at age 14; lower proficiency in the English language; and parental education being year 12 or below.
The results of our analyses illustrate the existence of clear empirically defined trajectory classes following the onset of disability across a range of indicators of well-being.