BACKGROUND: Social cognition and executive functioning difficulties following acquired brain injury have been linked to negative employment outcomes, such as demotion and loss of vocational roles. These are very counter-intuitive and challenging difficulties for other employees and work supervisors who have little or no brain injury knowledge, whose perceptions of play a key role in their responses to these difficulties and the final outcome of such problems for vocational status.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to study the relationship between social cognition and executive functioning difficulties and the perceptions of work supervisors' appraisal of survivor interpersonal behaviour and social skills in the workplace.
METHOD: The performance of 73 survivors of acquired brain injury (47% TBI, 38% CVA, 15% other ABI type; 73% male; mean age 45.44 years, range 19-64 years; mean time since injury 6.36 years, range 10.5-31.33 years), currently in a vocational rehabilitation placement) on neuropsychological tests of executive functioning and social cognition was measured. Informant ratings on the Social Skills Factor subscale from the Work Personality Profile (WPP, Bolton & Roessler, 1986) were used as the primary outcome measure, a vocational functioning questionnaire assessing social and presentational aspects of workplace behaviour. The raters were non-clinical workplace informants acting in a supervisory role (supervisory placement providers and job coaches).
RESULTS: Correlational analysis identified significant associations between the WPP and survivor goal-orientated planning and implementation, mentalising ability, recognition of positive and negative emotions, and recognition of simple sarcasm (all significant at p < 0.05). These correlates were entered into a stepwise multiple regression. The combination final of survivor mentalising ability and executive functioning explained 32 % of the variance in the WPP ratings (F (2, 52) = 12.15, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: Certain limitations of the study withstanding, the current findings add to previous literature in highlighting the relevance of survivor executive functioning and social cognition difficulties for the perceptions and appraisal of work colleagues, consistent with other studies that have identified negative vocational outcomes associated with such neuropsychological difficulties. The implications for vocational rehabilitation are discussed.