College of Education, Health and Human Sciences Center for Rehabilitation and Employment Research
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Dan Lustig, Ph.D., Director

University of Memphis
113 Patterson Hall
901.678.2731 (P)
901.678.3215 (F)
Memphis, TN 38152


The Center conducts on-going research that addresses the career development, vocational behaviors, and psychological well-being of individuals who been unemployed, under-employed, and socio-economically disadvantaged. The Center’s interdisciplinary research approach focuses on how social, psychological, organizational, cultural, economic, and medical factors impact the employment and career development of the groups identified above. New research teams are currently being developed as the Center’s programs expand. The links below provide additional information regarding the results of our recently published and presented research.

University of Memphis Magazine, Fall 2001, profiles The Center for Rehabilitation and Employment Research.

The Relationship between Working Alliance and Rehabilitation Outcomes

Daniel C. Lustig, David R. Strauser, and N. Dewaine Rice
The University of Memphis
Tom F. Rucker, Bureau of Business and Economic Research/Center for Manpower Studies, The University of Memphis

A key factor in the development of an effective relationship between the client and counselor is the development of a strong working alliance (H. Bordin, 1979). While considerable research has investigated the impact of the working alliance on counseling outcomes, no research has considered the effect of the working alliance between rehabilitation counselors and clients within the context of the State-Federal rehabilitation system. This study used existing survey data on 2732 vocational rehabilitation clients during fiscal year 1999-2000. Results indicate that (a) employed clients had a stronger working alliance than unemployed clients, and (b) working alliance is related to perception of future employment prospects and satisfaction with current job. Implications for rehabilitation counselors are discussed.

(The full article can be found in Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin 46: 1).

Ethnic and Gender Influences on the Social Acceptance of Persons with Disabilities by African American and White College Students

Chandra M. Donnell, Reginald, J. Alston, Joseph L. Hampton, Tyronn, J. Bell The University of Memphis

A small number of studies have yielded inconclusive results when examining the assertion that ethnic minorities have greater acceptance of persons with disabilities because of shared minority group status. The purpose of this study was to explore the hypothesis that African Americans, in comparison to Whites, hold more positive attitudes towards persons with disabilities in social situations. Also, differences according to the gender of the college student participants were explored. Implications for rehabilitation counseling are provided.

(The full article can be found in The Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 30:1)

Analyzing the Differences in Career Thoughts Based on Disability Status

David R. Strauser, Daniel C. Lustig, Jeanmarie Keim, Kristi Ketz, Alvin Malesky The University of Memphis

Research has suggested that an individual’s career thoughts play a significant role in what an individual perceives as viable career options and how an individual makes specific career choices. This study examined the differences in career thoughts between 63 individuals with a disability and a convenience sample of 149 college students in a southern urban university. The results of independent sample t-tests suggested no significant difference between the groups on all four scales of the Career Thoughts Inventory. The authors discuss effect sizes, several possible explanations for the results, and limitations to the study. The results would also suggest that rehabilitation professionals working with individuals with disabilities should not assume that individuals with disabilities have a higher level of dysfunctional career thoughts. Instead, rehabilitation professionals should individually analyze an individual’s career thoughts to determine implications for career development and rehabilitation planning.

(The full article can be found in the Journal of Rehabilitation, 68:1).

The Implications of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder on Vocational Behavior and Rehabilitation Planning

David R. Strauser, Daniel C. Lustig The University of Memphis

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can occur at any age with people who have no predisposing conditions. PTSD is distinguishable from other DSM-IV-TR anxiety disorders as its symptoms develop after exposure to an extreme stressor or traumatic event (i.e. rape, sexual assault, physical violence and war). Research has suggested that individuals with disabilities, especially women, experience higher rates of violence, abuse, and trauma when compared to their non-disabled peers (Watson-Armstrong, O’Rourke,& Schatzlein, 1999), theoretically putting them at increased risk for the development of PTSD. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief review of PTSD and discuss the implications for rehabilitation planning and individual vocational development. The Ecological Model of Career Development (Syzmanski, 2000) is applied to help the reader conceptualize the effects of PTSD on vocational behavior. Specific attention is given to the potential effect of PTSD on the congruence between the individual and work environment. Recommendations are then offered to increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation counselors working with individuals with disabilities who may be experiencing PTSD.

(The full article can be found in Journal of Rehabilitation, 67: 4).

Developmental Work Personality Scale: An Initial Analysis

David R. Strauser, Jeanmarie Keim The University of Memphis

The research reported in this article involved using the Developmental Model of Work Personality to create a scale to measure work personality. The Developmental Work Personality Scale (DWPS) consists of 26 items that measure the structural components of the model. Results from statistical analysis suggested that the DWPS measures the overall construct of work personality, that it has good internal consistency (a= .91), and that the overall construct validity of the scale was supported by three of the five WPP-SR factors, creating a unique relationship with the overall score on the DWPS. Overall, results indicated that the DWPS may have potential applications for assessing work personality prior to client involvement in comprehensive return-to-work rehabilitation programs.

(The full article can be found in Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 45: 2)

The Relationship Between Self-Efficacy, Locus of Control, and Work Personality

David R. Strauser, Kristi Ketz The University of Memphis

The purpose of this study was to examine Hershenson’s theory of work adjustment by examining the relationship between work personality and work competencies. Specifically, this study examined the theoretical link and the reciprocal effect between the domains of work personality and work competencies. Participants included 104 job placement service recipients in a large Southern urban area. Findings showed that higher levels of work personality predicted an internal locus of control and higher job-related self-efficacy. The number of jobs a person had held was correlated with work personality and work persistence was correlated with education. Findings also indicated that individuals whose parents/guardians worked while they were growing up had more internalized locus of control. Results are discussed in light of current literature.

(The full article located in Journal of Rehabilitation, 68:1)

The Relationship Between Sense of Coherence and Adjustment in Persons with Disabilities

Daniel C. Lustig Auburn University, David A. Rosenthal, University of Wisonsin-Stout, David R. Strauser, University of Memphis, and Kelly Haynes, Auburn University

The concepts of salutogenesis and Antonovsky’s sense of coherence are introduced. Salutogenesis and sense of coherence are based upon factors (i.e., comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness) that promote health rather than those factors that cause disease. This study investigated the relationship between sense of coherence and adjustment in individuals with a disability (i.e., 89 college students with disabilities). Results indicated a positive correlation between sense of coherence and adjustment (p < .01). The subscales of sense of coherence accounted for 77% of the variance in adjustment, with the meaningfulness subscale accounting for the greatest percentage. The value of these paradigms and implications for rehabilitation counseling are disclosed.

(The full article located in Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 43:3)

The Relationship Between Sense of Coherence and Career Thoughts

Daniel C. Lustig, David R. Strauer The University of Memphis

The authors examined the impact of sense of coherence on the career thought process of a sample of college students. A. Antonovsky (1987) defined sense of coherence as the global orientation that the world is comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful. Study participants completed the Sense of Coherence Scale (A. Antonovsky, 1987) and the Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI, J.P. Sampson, G.W. Peterson, J.G. Lenz, R.C. Reardon, & D.E. Saunders, 1996). Multivariate tests indicated a medium relationship between sense of coherence and CTI Total subscale scores; sense of coherence accounted for 14% of the variance. Univariate tests also indicated a medium relationship between sense of coherence and each subscale.

(The full article is located in The Career Development Quarterly, vol. 51).

Challenges Faced by Minority Doctoral Candidates Seeking Academic Positions

Dion F. Porter, Jackson State University, Chandra M. Donnell, University of Memphis, Yolanda V. Edwards, University of Maryland, Corey L. Moore, Langston University

Minority doctoral candidates face numerous obstacles during the process of applying for an academic position in rehabilitation education. This article provides a few sentiments into many of the challenges faced by graduating minority doctoral candidates attempting to obtain academic positions in rehabilitation education programs. Specifically, the challenges for minorities seeking academic positions discussed include issues relating to diversity and faculty support, the mentoring of new faculty, and the preferred competencies in instructing via distance education. Information presented in this article may assist minority doctoral candidates as well as prospective employers within the academy in making the application process a more efficient one.

(The full article is located in Rehabilitation Education, 16:1)

Family Coping in Families with a Child with a Disability

Daniel C. Lustig University of Memphis

This study investigates the relationship between a family’s problems solving and coping strategies, and family adjustment in a sample of families with a child with a disability. Participants were 89 parents of children with disabilities, not including children with learning disabilities in Special Education classes, in rural and urban school districts. Family adjustment was measured by the Family Assessment Device-General Functioning scales (F-COPES). The results indicate that less frequent use of passive appraisal and more frequent use of reframing are associated with family adjustment. Interventions for modifying a family’s coping strategies are discussed.

(The full article is located in Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 37:1).

Examining the Differences in Career Thoughts of Women in Three Low Socioeconomic Status Groups

Jeanmarie Keim, David R. Strauser, Kristi Ketz

The authors examined differences in career thoughts of three groups of women from low socioeconomic status backgrounds. The three groups were composed of women who were not seeking employment, women attempting to obtain General Educational Development (GED) certification prior to seeking employment, and women with disabilities who were participating in readiness-to-work programs. Results indicated that there were significant differences in participants’ career thoughts. Specifically, career thoughts of women who were not seeking employment were significantly less dysfunctional that were the career thoughts of the women who were pursuing their GED certification and those of the women with disabilities who were participating in a job-readiness training program. The impact of negative career thoughts is discussed.

(The full article is located in Journal of Employment Counseling, vol. 39)

Interagency Collaboration: Reinforcing Professional Bridges to Serve Aging Populations with Multiple Service Needs

Debra A. Harley, University of Kentucky, Chandra Donnell, University of Memphis, JoAnne Rainey, Kentucky State University

Aging consumers with disabilities have multiple needs that require services from various agencies. This article addresses implications for collaboration between vocational rehabilitation, social work, and mental health agencies. Attention is given to the basis for integrative and collaborative helping, and strategies for functional integration and collaboration. Recommendations are made regarding public policy and service coordination.

(The full article can be found in Journal of Rehabilitation, April/May/June 2003)

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