What motivates direct support providers to do the work they do?

Jennifer M. Hensel, Rikki A. Hensel, Carolyn S Dewa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background Direct support providers (DSPs) in community residential services are often central figures in the lives of service recipients. There is little research to date focusing on what motivates these employees to remain in the field despite stressful work conditions.Methods An exploratory descriptive analysis of qualitative data obtained from semistructured interviews with 19 community residential DSPs in Ontario, Canada, was conducted. Data were analysed for modes of entry into the field and reasons for remaining.Results DSPs are motivated to remain in the sector because of the people supported, the nature of the work and the work environment, practical reasons like job security, and personal ambitions and reward. Most staff are motivated in multiple domains.Conclusion Future research can use these findings to further explore DSP work motivations and relationships to job performance and turnover. For researchers and human resource practitioners, adapting existing models and measures of organisational commitment may be a useful strategy for studying and utilising knowledge of DSP motivations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-303
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • direct support providers
  • human resources
  • job retention
  • organisational commitment
  • work motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'What motivates direct support providers to do the work they do?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this