Systematic review of mentorship programs to facilitate transition to post-secondary education and employment for youth and young adults with disabilities

This study by Sally Lindsay, Laura R. Hartman and Melissa Fellin of the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the University of Toronto in the October 2015 issue of Disability and Rehabilitation provides a systemic review of the literature on mentorship interventions for youth and young adults with disabilities who are in transition to post-secondary education (PSE) and employment. Based on a scan of the literature published between 1980 and 2014, the authors identified 22 research studies that evaluated such interventions among youth, aged thirty or younger, with physical, developmental, or cognitive disabilities.

Based on their meta-analysis of the 22 evaluations, the authors found that seven studies reported that the mentorship program being evaluated contributed to at least one significant improvement in school- or work-related outcomes. The authors note that the common features of these seven effective programs were that they were structured, delivered in group-based or mixed formats, and longer in duration (longer than 6 months). The authors conclude that while further rigorous evaluation is required, these findings provide good indication that mentorship interventions do have the potential to effectively support youth with disabilities during their transition, but that they should incorporate as much as possible the effective components identified in their research with respect to duration, content and format.

This study should be of interest to policy makers, researchers and practitioners who are considering the adoption or development of mentorship programs to support youth with disabilities experience barriers in transitioning to PSE and employment.

The paper can be accessed through a journal subscription or purchased directly from the publisher, Taylor and Francis Group.