Disability and sex/gender intersections in unmet workplace support needs: findings from a large Canadian survey of workers

Publication type
Journal article
Jetha A, Gignac MA, Ibrahim S, Martin Ginis KA
Date published
2021 Feb 01
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Open Access?

Introduction: Individual attributes including disability and sex/gender have the potential to intersect and determine the likelihood of unmet workplace support needs. Our study compares unmet workplace support needs between workers with and without a disability, and according to disability type and sex/gender differences. Methods: Workers with (n = 901) and without (n = 895) a disability were surveyed to examine their need and use of workplace supports including job accommodations, work modifications and health benefits. A multivariable logistic model was conducted to examine the relationship between disability status, disability type and sex/gender and unmet workplace support needs. The model included interaction terms between sex/gender × physical disability, sex/gender × nonphysical disability, and sex/gender × physical and nonphysical disability. Results: Among participants with a disability, 24% had a physical disability, 20% had a nonphysical disability (e.g., cognitive, mental/emotional or sensory disability) and 56% had both physical and nonphysical disability. Over half of the respondents were women (56%). Results from the multivariable model showed that nondisabled women were more likely to report unmet workplace support needs when compared to nondisabled men (odds ratio [OR] = 1.54, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13-2.10). Findings also showed an intersection between the number and type of disability and sex/gender; women with both a physical and nonphysical disability had the greatest likelihood of reporting unmet workplace support needs when compared to nondisabled men (OR = 2.73; 95% CI, 1.83-4.08). Conclusions: Being a woman and having one or more disabilities can determine unmet workplace support needs. Strategies to address workplace support needs should consider the intersection between disability and sex/gender differences.