Development of a questionnaire for a longitudinal study on the social and economic participation of people with disabilities

Report prepared for the Disability Policy and Research Working Group
Labour force participation Questionnaire survey Workforce diversity People with disabilities Research Australia

The University of Melbourne received funding from the Disability Policy and Research Working Group to develop a questionnaire for a longitudinal study exploring the social and economic participation of people with and without disabilities. A longitudinal study of people with and without disabilities would enable important questions about the lives of people with disabilities to be answered and would overcome the problems associated with current disability datasets. Importantly, this longitudinal study would be conceptualised in terms of a ‘social model of disability’ whereby disability is understood to occur when people with various conditions or impairments are unable to fully participate in society on an equal basis because of physical, social and economic barriers. It was the intention of researchers to model the questionnaire design on that of the Life Opportunities Survey (LOS), a United Kingdom longitudinal study that collects data on impairments and barriers to participation for people with and without impairments. 

In developing this proposal we recognised the range of datasets available in Australia particularly the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC). While these data have been critical in providing a ‘snapshot’ of the experiences of people with disabilities, more useful data could be garnered by following people with disabilities (and a comparison group of people without disabilities) over time. For example, a longitudinal study would provide an in-depth understanding about the barriers and facilitators of health life transitions; describe which aspects of people’s lives affect the course of their disability; and importantly, through comparison with people without disabilities the study would highlight the ways in which people with disabilities are disadvantaged relative to people without disabilities, and the ways in which this disadvantage affects their lives. Such data are critical for the evaluation of new policy initiatives such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

The aim of this project was to undertake the developmental process for a questionnaire for the first wave of a longitudinal survey. This report outlines the four stage questionnaire development process. 

This report is funded with assistance from a funding grant offered under the National Disability Research and Development Agenda, jointly implemented by disability representatives from Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

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