Attachment and Employment Outcomes for People With Spinal Cord Injury: The Intermediary Role of Hope

Authors: Blonk, R. W., Brenninkmeijer, V., Lagerveld, S. E., & Houtman, I. L.
Year Published 2017
Publication Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin
Volume 60
Number 2
Pages 77-87
Publisher SAGE

Compared to people without disabilities, people with spinal cord injury (SCI) have significantly lower employment rates. There are approximately 270,000 people in the United States living with a SCI. Recently, industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology has focused on adopting positive psychological approaches to work related behaviors. Positive organizational behavior (POB) and I/O psychology findings indicate that attachment and hope are related to important vocational variables.


This study explores the relevance of attachment and hope for vocational rehabilitation (VR), in relation to full time employment, for individuals with SCI. More specifically, this study aims to a) examine the relationship between attachment, hope, and full-time employment for individuals with SCI, and b) to examine the mediation effect of hope on the relationships between attachment and full-time employment for individuals with SCI.


Participants were recruited from SCI advocacy organizations, specifically through newsletters. Data were collected via an anonymous online survey.


Participants (N =84) ranged from 21 to 64 years of age (M= 47.05,SD= 10.72). There were 57 males, and 26 females in the sample, with one participant not responding to the gender question. Participants were predominantly Caucasian (88.1%), with 48 participants reporting being unemployed (57.2%) and 23 participants reporting full-time employment (27.4%). A large majority of participants (85.5%) reported completing some post-secondary education.

Data Collection

Employment was coded as binary, employed full time or not employed full-time. The Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ, Feeney, Noller, & Hanrahan, 1994) was used to measure attachment. The Trait Hope Scale (THS; Snyder et al., 1991) was developed as a 12-item instrument to score total hope, pathways thoughts, and agency thoughts.


There was no control group.


Results indicate that attachment and hope were significantly related and predictive of full-time employment. Hope was also a significant mediator between attachment and full-time employment.


Vocational rehabilitation counselors should strive to maintain and enhance positive time perspective for individuals with secure attachment. Individuals with low agency/low pathways experience increased barriers to the goal pursuit process and would benefit from increased direction.

Disabilities Orthopedic impairments
Populations Male & Female | White / Caucasian
Outcomes Full-time employment
NIDILRR Funded Yes
Research Design Observational
Peer Reviewed Yes