Workplace disability disclosure

Date
2013
Authors
Bennett, Janet M.
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Journal ISSN
Volume Title
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Abstract

This study utilized the approach-avoidance construct as a metaphor for the disability disclosure process by which individuals must weigh the benefits and risks of disclosure. The purpose of this study was to determine if expectations of workplace social support or rejection and accommodation utility influenced the likelihood of disability disclosure and accommodation seeking in the workplace and if this disclosure likelihood was influenced by disability type. Three different invisible or concealable disability types were compared: one physical (i.e., diabetes mellitus), one cognitive (i.e., learning disability), and one psychological (i.e., major depression). Participants rated disclosure likelihood, expectations of workplace support/rejection, and expectations of accommodation utility for each of the three disabilities, and then completed scales to measure approach-avoidance tendencies. Limited support was found for the prediction of disclosure likelihood by anticipated workplace support/rejection and anticipated accommodation utility in the diabetes mellitus and learning disability conditions. No support was found for the prediction of disclosure likelihood by approach-avoidance tendencies or for the use of the approach-avoidance construct as a metaphor for disability disclosure decision-making. Results did indicate that psychological disabilities and cognitive disabilities are more negatively perceived than physical disabilities. Participants were less likely to disclose both major depression and learning disability than diabetes mellitus, and disclosure likelihood was lower for major depression than it was for diabetes mellitus. Understanding perceptions of the characteristics of specific disabilities may be more important than understanding how personality differences contribute to perceptions of disability.

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Keywords
diabetes mellitus, disability disclosure, learning disability, major depression, work
Citation
Department
Psychology