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Reply to Murphy (2009): the vocational focus in rehabilitation continues to be valued.

Murphy (2009) claimed in the Australian Journal of Career Development (18(1), pp. 36-49) that there has been a shift away from vocational goals in rehabilitation. However, the evidence he provides to demonstrate this shift is highly questionable, and far from the reality of current Australian vocational rehabilitation.

He cites the influential rehabilitation psychologist Roberta Trieschmann who wrote mostly about the psychosocial rehabilitation of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). While Trieschmann was frequently cited in the rehabilitation literature in the 1980s (Crisp, 1987), her influence has arguably waned in recent times. Recent research concerning, for example, the vocational rehabilitation of persons with SCI has been dominated by the extensive work of Krause and his co-workers (see Crisp, 2005). Murphy makes no mention of this research, much of which has been published in one of the journals he reviewed; that is, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Murphy cited 'selected authorities' (p. 40) from the United Kingdom to argue the decline of vocational rehabilitation services in Australia. There is, however, no comparison between vocational rehabilitation services in the UK and Australia.

I should declare my interest here. I work for a vocational rehabilitation service provider that holds a large stake in the vocational rehabilitation field in this country. Admittedly, it is hardly surprising that I do not support Murphy's main argument. However, I can cite my own reviews that indicate a healthy and robust vocational rehabilitation literature--which were ignored by Murphy.

Murphy argued: 'One simple way to gauge the centrality of vocational services within rehabilitation is to review the variables measured by researchers publishing in the major rehabilitation journals' (Murphy, 2009, p. 38). To support this claim he reviewed the content of two journals over a recent five-year period. His review was hardly representative of the numerous journals that do accept articles on vocational rehabilitation. Further, the two journals he reviewed have a heavy medical emphasis and tend to focus upon the acute phase of medical and physical rehabilitation. It is therefore not surprising that he found employment to be of relatively 'minimal interest' in these journals (Murphy, 2009, pp. 38-39).

In my own review of the vocational rehabilitation literature (Crisp, 2005), I selectively drew upon 75 studies in rehabilitation and disability journals in relation to six diagnostic groups. Examples of the respected, refereed journals that I reviewed were:

* spinal cord injuries: Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (APMR), Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, Rehabilitation Psychology

* traumatic brain injuries: APMR, Brain Injury, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation

* amputation: The Journal of Trauma, Rehabilitation Psychology

* chronic pain: APMR, Pain, Spine

* myocardial infarction/coronary artery bypass grafting: British Medical Journal, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Social Science and Medicine.

* severe mental illness: Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Rehabilitation, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, Psychiatric Services.

I drew upon these and other journals in a further review of the relation between depression and occupational disability (Crisp, 2007). Surely, Murphy could have referred to the wider literature, as he has done elsewhere. His own contribution to the vocational rehabilitation literature has been extensive and it is therefore all the more puzzling that he chose to review only two journals.



Crisp, R. (1987). Citations analysis and literature trends. Rehabilitation Psychology, 32, 181-182.

Crisp, R. (2005). Key factors related to vocational outcome: Trends for six disability groups. Journal of Rehabilitation, 71(4), 30-37.

Crisp, R. (2007). Depression and occupational disability in five diagnostic groups: A review of recent research. Disability & Rehabilitation, 29(4), 267-279.

Murphy, G. C. (2009). Putting a vocational focus back into rehabilitation. Australian Journal of Career Development, 18(1), 36-44.

Ross Crisp

Registered Psychologist
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Careers Forum; G.C. Murphy
Author:Crisp, Ross
Publication:Australian Journal of Career Development
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 22, 2009
Previous Article:Influencing career development commitment with employers and individuals.
Next Article:Career development and social inclusion.

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