The Lived Experience of Return to Work in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury in Saudi Arabia: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

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Introduction: Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a catastrophic event that causes both sensory and motor limitation. In Saudi Arabia, SCI predominantly affects people in the young and productive age between 16 and 30 years old. Sustaining such an injury will impact on which everyday occupations are performed and how, as well as hindering participation in the wider community. To date, in Saudi Arabia no research has been done on these individuals’ experience of return to work (RTW) and how they manage their residual disability. The aim of this research was to understand the lived experience of returning to employment for individuals with SCI in Saudi Arabia. Methodology: Qualitative design using an interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) was chosen to answer the study question. Semi-structured interviews of 45–90 minutes were conducted with three participants who sustained SCI. Then, data was analysed using the IPA method as set by Smith et al. (2009). Findings: Six themes emerged in cluster order, employment history, RTW barriers, RTW facilitators, personal factors, community and RTW. Conclusion: The RTW for individuals with SCI in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is multi- domain, starting and ending with the individuals themselves and their capacity for coping and active problem solving. Policy makers need to participate actively in finding solutions to include these individuals in the community as they are susceptible to occupational injustice in their current situation.