Schooling, employment, and idleness in young adults with serious physical health conditions: Effects of age, disability status, and parental education

Henry T. Ireys, David S. Salkever, Kenneth B. Kolodner, Polly E. Bijur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose: Education, employment, and 'idleness' in young adults with ongoing physical health conditions were examined in relation to parents' education and respondent's age and co-existing disabilities. Methods: Telephone interviews were conducted with 421 individuals aged 20-24 years randomly drawn from public health programs in two midwestern states. In addition to a chronic health condition, 18% of the sample also had mental retardation, 21% also had a physical disability (but no retardation), and 11% also had a learning disability (but no mental retardation or physical disability). Youth were considered 'idle' if they were not in school, not employed, not married, and had no children. Results: Thirty-seven percent of the sample were enrolled in an educational program, and 48% were employed either part-time or full-time. Seventeen percent were both in school and employed, 50% were in school or employed, and 33% were neither in school nor working. Overall, 23% of the sample were idle. Youth with mental retardation were two to three times more likely to be in school compared to youth with a chronic physical condition alone. Youth with mental retardation and physical disabilities were less likely to be employed and more likely to be idle compared to youth with only a chronic condition. Parental education affected rates of schooling and employment. Compared to a general population sample of youth in the same states, youth with ongoing health problems were at higher risk for idleness. Conclusions: Youth with chronic health conditions and either mental retardation or physical disabilities are at higher risk for idleness compared to youth with a chronic condition alone or to youth in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic illnesses
  • Disabilities
  • Employment
  • Schooling
  • Young adulthood
  • Youth special needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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