Dr. Jenni Wise’s dissertation work used a mixed methods approach to evaluate the similarities and differences among working and non-working WWH and women at risk for HIV (WARH) in the United States using traditional return to work factors (i.e. physical capacity and cognitive capacity) and other factors prominent in the occupational literature, but not sufficiently investigated among PWH (i.e., socioeconomic status, availability of social capital/social support, and attitudes and behaviors associated with personal empowerment). Integrated findings from a mixed-methods approach suggest that attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors associated with empowerment, cognitive function and problem-solving ability, and emotional coping and psychological health influence employment and occupational productivity in WWH.
Dr. Wise’s work has influenced directions for future research and has laid the groundwork for future interventions and policy in several ways. Jenni’s work has 1) Elucidated the relationships between improved health outcomes and employment among WWH, and provided the pilot data critically needed to underscore the call for occupational programs among WWH; 2) highlighted the need for a more holistic approach to vocational rehabilitation and screening needs among WWH, and 3) important inferences for total worker health and return-to-work policies among other populations. Notably, behaviors associated with improved psychological health, problem-solving strategies, and personal empowerment can be taught through interventions, thus improving employment and health outcomes across populations. Jenni’s work may be useful in the advocacy of expanding the provision of vocational rehabilitation within the Ryan White CARE Act and the Ryan White program.