Race, personal history characteristics, and vocational rehabilitation outcomes : a structural equation modeling approach



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Numerous studies have indicated racial and ethnic disparities in the vocational rehabilitation (VR) system, including differences in eligibility, services provided, and employment outcomes. Few of these studies, however, have utilized advanced multivariate techniques or latent constructs to measure quality of employment outcomes (QEO) or tested hypothesized models for the relationship between race, personal history characteristics, and VR outcomes. Furthermore, few VR disparities studies have examined southwestern states such as Texas, which has large Hispanic and Black populations. The purpose of this study was to utilize structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine several implied conceptual models for the relationship between race, personal history characteristics, and VR outcomes for White, Black, and Hispanic participants in the Texas VR system. The implied conceptual models were tested for goodness of fit and multiple-group invariance. A measurement model for QEO, a latent construct, was tested and used in the study. QEO was measured by three indicator variables and evaluated using confirmatory factor analysis. A MIMIC model was tested to assess racial/ethnic variation in QEO. The MIMIC results were compared to a multiple regression approach. In addition, a path model and logistic regressions were conducted to assess racial variation in VR closure status among consumers who were unemployed at application to VR. All models were retested with an independent sample to assess predictive validity. The study results indicated good model fit and measurement invariance for the QEO construct. The structural model for race, personal history characteristics, and QEO indicated moderate model fit. It also indicated interaction effects for race by gender and for race by public support. The MIMIC model results suggest that QEO decreased for Blacks and Hispanics compared to Whites. Furthermore, the MIMIC results, which utilized QEO as an endogenous variable, differed from the multiple regression findings, which utilized one criterion. The multiple regression findings indicated no statistically significant difference between Blacks and Whites. The path model for race and VR closure status indicated poor model fit. The logistic regression indicated no racial/ethnic differences in VR closure status. Several model estimates did not cross-validate. Study limitations and suggestions for future research are described.