Do Area-Level Environmental Factors Influence Employment for People with Disability? A Scoping Review

Nicola Fortune, Bernadette Curryer, Hannah Badland, Jennifer Smith-Merry, Alexandra Devine, Roger J. Stancliffe, Eric Emerson, Gwynnyth Llewellyn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Employment is an important social determinant of health and wellbeing. People with disability experience labour market disadvantage and have low labour force participation rates, high unemployment rates, and poor work conditions. Environmental factors are crucial as facilitators of or barriers to participation for people with disability. Understanding how the physical, social, and economic characteristics of local areas influence employment for people with disability can potentially inform interventions to reduce employment inequalities. We conducted a scoping review of research investigating associations between area-level environmental factors and employment for people with disability. Eighteen articles published between 2000 and 2020 met the inclusion criteria, and data were extracted to map the current evidence. Area-level factors were categorised into six domains relating to different aspects of environmental context: socioeconomic environment, services, physical environment, social environment, governance, and urbanicity. The urbanicity and socioeconomic environment domains were the most frequently represented (15 and 8 studies, respectively). The studies were heterogeneous in terms of methods and data sources, scale and type of geographic units used for analysis, disability study population, and examined employment outcomes. We conclude that the current evidence base is insufficient to inform the design of interventions. Priorities for future research are identified, which include further theorising the mechanisms by which area-level factors may influence employment outcomes, quantifying the contribution of specific factors, and interrogating specific factors underlying the association between urbanicity and employment outcomes for people with disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9082
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health grant APP1116385. HB is funded by an RMIT University Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • area-level
  • disability
  • employment
  • environmental factors
  • geographic
  • inequalities
  • labour force

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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