Introduction Adverse effects on individual well-being as a result of unemployment are well-documented. Individuals in transitional housing programs often have a goal of reaching stable employment, but the unique needs and barriers for achieving re-employment among this diverse population (includes individuals that may be homeless, formerly incarcerated, or impacted by other stressful life circumstances) warrants further study to enhance programmatic and service recommendations.
Methods A structured interview guide was developed and modelled after existing validated surveys. To evaluate the ability of the instrument to optimally measure the constructs of interest, cognitive interviewing was conducted to identify problems in comprehension, retrieval, judgement and response to survey questions so that the survey can be modified prior to full deployment. The survey was administered orally by one interviewer and audio recorded. Descriptive data analysis was done for this exploratory semi-qualitative study.
Result Fifteen cognitive interviews were completed resulting in changes in content, wording, study inclusion criteria, and development of response categories. Over thirty interviews were conducted using the final guide. Results suggest that work histories of participants are more extensive with longer periods of employment than may be expected. Many respondents indicated that future employment goals include owning their own business and may represent an area of additional needed training for those currently unemployed. However, most aspirations for future employment were congruent with past achievements, including ownership.
Discussion It is important to assess the needs and barriers of those seeking employment services to ensure programs deliver essential services. Ownership may help bypass some of the challenges faced with finding and maintaining employment due to criminal records or other barriers. This interview guide will be used in other populations seeking varied employment services from community organisations to further study needs and barriers for regaining employment.
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