The participants in this study were located in the state of Missouri in a small town with a population close to 120,000. Participants were chosen using purposive sampling with maximum variation goals so as to provide a cross section of PLWD who experienced barriers to social participations because of their physical or psychological disabilities, see Table 1
. Purposeful, maximum variation sampling allows for an exploratory approach to the population of PLWD to better understand the barriers they face [27
]. After approval from the Institutional Review Board, the participants were selected on the basis of whether they had sought or were seeking employment, or whether they had worked or were working. Further, the goal of this research was to better understand how workplace participation impacted them. Just as each disability provides a unique set of challenges, the researchers felt it necessary to explore the variations and differences which might appear among the participants [28
The researchers, who had worked with disability advocates previously as well as in previous research studies, used their experience and connections in the disability community to solicit participation from a network of disability advocates, caregivers, and PLWD, interviewing a total of thirteen participants. All 12 participants were disabled. Of the 12 participants, half reported physical disabilities ranging from SCI to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Muscular Dystrophy (MD), while the other half reported psychological disabilities including Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although 12 participants may seem like a small sample population, the data gathered were diverse and robust and indicated duplicative emerging themes among all participants [29
2.3. Data Collection
The semi-structured interviews took place in spring 2017 in locations convenient, accessible, and private for the participants. Each interview took between 30 and 120 min and was audiotaped and then transcribed. For example, for research question 1, questions such as “Tell me what workplace participation means to you” and “Describe what being employed means to you” were asked. For research question 2, regarding stigma, self-efficacy, and clothing as it relates to workplace participation, the following types of questions were asked: “Describe your experiences when applying for a job”, “Describe a time when you didn’t apply for a job because of your disability and the factors which prevented you from applying”, “Discuss a time when you applied for a job and clothing requirements were a factor in your decision to accept a job”, and “Describe how prepared/qualified you feel you have been for the jobs for which you have applied for or held.”
2.4. Data Analysis
To support the rigor and trustworthiness of the data collected, the researchers utilized the following methods of triangulation: (a) Participants with various type of physical disabilities were involved in the study, (b) Participants were recruited from a variety of locations within the town and organizations, and (c) The researchers used a constant comparison analysis along with word count to better understand and capture the emerging themes. As can be seen in Table 1
, the participants demonstrated diversity in disability, gender, age, occupation, and experience. Using a wide range of participants allowed the researchers to witness individual views and experiences, which provided a deeper understanding of the participant’s attitudes and needs as they related to the unmet clothing needs that serve as barriers to PLWD [30
]. Further, recruiting participants from a variety of locations, backgrounds, and organizations helped to insert greater credibility into the findings by demonstrating consistent findings across the demographic [30
]. Finally, using a variety of qualitative analysis tools allowed for increased credibility of the findings and allowed the researchers to trust the themes which emerged during the analysis [31
The constant comparison analysis process of thematic analysis, as described by Braun and Clarke [32
], was used by the two researchers, and followed six steps in the interpretation of the data: (a) immersion in the data, (b) development of initial codes, (c) searching for themes, (d) reviewing themes, (e) defining themes, and (f) selection of vivid and compelling examples. The first step, immersion in the data, required a detailed review of each transcript. This process was interpretive, with both researchers constructing and detailing their version of what the data suggested and looking for meanings and themes throughout the dataset [29
]. It was during this step that initial notes were made regarding possible themes and were compared between the researchers.
Following the review of the data, the second step, development of initial themes, began. Each researcher compared the two research questions to each interview and generated a master, color-coded list to identify each theme. The initial theme categories were: (a) workplace participation, (b) stigma and self-efficacy, and (c) the role of clothing in PLWD’s lives. Relevant content was highlighted by each researcher according to comments made by the participants; the goal was to look for as many connections as possible to the two research questions. In some cases, participant comments overlapped the research questions. When overlap occurred, the researchers used multiple color codes to designate that passage.
The third step, searching for individual themes under the three theme categories, began with the categorization of the research interpretation and analysis [32
]. Both researchers worked collectively to create a document detailing the progression of the interpretation analysis. This document allowed for a more analytical approach to the interpretation of the data, which assisted the researchers in finding critical connections that may have been more difficult to see when simply reviewing the transcribed text [29
]. The first stage of step three involved sorting the coded content into themes. Initially, 21 themes were identified within the workplace participation category, 39 themes were identified within the stigma and self-efficacy category, and 31 themes were identified within the role of clothing category. Word count was also employed during step three. Both researchers searched for key words used by participants that reflected either unmet clothing needs or barriers they faced in workplace participation. These words were used in establishing the themes. The participant number was placed next to each theme or word to designate the connection to each theme and to allow for location of examples later in the analysis process. These themes were documented as descriptive explanations of what was presented by the participant during the interview and were guided by the theoretical framework used for this research study [29
]. Using a descriptive explanation process provided a connection to the initial themes and the research question.
The fourth step, reviewing themes, required the researchers to take a detailed look at the initial themes to identify recurring patterns. These patterns allowed the researchers to categorize using two criteria: “internal homogeneity” and “external homogeneity” [33
] (p. 403). Internal homogeneity categorizes data by how they connect to each other in a significant way, whereas external homogeneity categorizes data by the differences among the categories. Through this process, 21 initial workplace participation themes were narrowed down to 3, and 39 initial stigma and self-efficacy themes were narrowed down to 2. It was during this process that the researchers found overlap in the role clothing played in workplace participation, stigma, and self-efficacy and combined these concepts to demonstrate the relationship.
During the fifth step, defining themes, the participant stories began to develop through the refinement of themes [32
]. For workplace participation, the three themes were: (a) Work defines me; (b) Disability as the barrier to workplace participation; (c) Work allows extra societal opportunities. For "appropriate clothing improves my stigma and self-efficacy", the three themes were: (a) Stigma questions my self-efficacy; (b) Workplace accommodations diminished my stigma; (c) Clothing builds my self-efficacy. Finally, the last step, selection of vivid and compelling examples, resulted in the researchers reviewing the transcribed data a final time to pull examples which supported the story being told within each theme and sub-theme. These examples were chosen because they captured the very essence of what was being described by theory and they demonstrated how PLWD view workplace participation as a mechanism for providing opportunities and challenges which can be overshadowed by stigma and self-efficacy [32
]. Overall, through interactions and discussions between the two researchers, a 100% of interpretation agreement was achieved.