Seminar Presentation 5-4

5-4 (Presentation within Topical Seminar 5):
Workplace adjustments and natural support for people with mental disorders employed in social businesses: an international comparison

Presented by: Patrizia Villotti


Villotti P1, Corbière M2, Fossey E3, Fraccaroli F1, Lecomte T4, Harvey C3

  1. Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of Trento, Italy
  2. Center for Action in Work Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation, and School of Rehabilitation, University of Sherbrooke, Canada
  3. Psychosocial Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Australia
  4. Fernand-Seguin Research CenterLouis-H. Lafontaine Hospital, and Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Canada



The implementation of work adjustments has been recognized as being a key factor related to success in employment for workers with disabilities (American with Disabilities Act of 1990). Yet, little is known about the types of work adjustments and natural support that may be useful for people experiencing disabling mental illness (MacDonald Wilson, Rogers, Massaro, Lyass & Crean, 2002). With the aim to increase the general knowledge on work accommodations for mentally disabled people, we conducted an exploratory, descriptive and cross-national investigation of work adjustments for individuals with mental illness employed in social businesses raised in three different countries: Italy, Canada and Australia.


Study findings are drawn from survey responses (WANSS, Corbière and Ptasinski, 2004) of a convenient sample of 90 persons with self-reported psychiatric disabilities who are employed in Social Businesses located in Italy (N=30), Canada (N=30) and Australia (N=30). Italian, Canadian and Australian samples were matched on age, gender, level of education and diagnosis.


Descriptive analyses showed that social business is a working context characterized by the provision of a high number of work adjustments and natural support. Results from One-way ANOVAs showed a statistical differences among Countries for the “Supervisor and co-workers support” [F(2,87)=5.38, p=.006] and “Training” [F(2,87)=5.17, p=.008] categories of the WANSS. Post hoc comparison using the Tukey HSD test indicated that the mean score for Italy (M=7.80, SD=2.26) at the “Supervisor and co-workers support” category was significantly different than the mean score of Canada (M=9.34, SD=2.06) and Australia (M=9.31, SD=1.89), while the mean score for Canada (M=4.02, SD=2.07) at the “Training” category was significantly different from the mean score of Australia (M=5.75, SD=2.32). No main effect of group emerged for the other scale categories and for the total number of work adjustments provided. Similarities and differences among Countries will be discussed.


Overall, this study advance our knowledge about the implementation of work adjustments and natural support in social businesses and can help us to develop the most efficient framework for the integration process of people with mental disorders.