Objective: Although large-scale surveys indicate that patients with severe mental illness want to work, their unemployment rate is three to five times that of the general adult population. This multisite, randomized implementation effectiveness trial examined the impact of highly integrated psychiatric and vocational rehabilitation services on the likelihood of successful work outcomes.
Method: At seven sites nationwide, 1,273 outpatients with severe mental illness were randomly assigned either to an experimental supported employment program or to a comparison/services-as-usual condition and followed for 24 months. Data collection involved monthly services tracking, semiannual in-person interviews, recording of all paid employment, and program ratings made by using a services-integration measure. The likelihood of competitive employment and working 40 or more hours per month was examined by using mixed-effects random regression analysis.
Results: Subjects served by models that integrated psychiatric and vocational service delivery were more than twice as likely to be competitively employed and almost 1(1/2) times as likely to work at least 40 hours per month when the authors controlled for time, demographic, clinical, and work history confounds. In addition, higher cumulative amounts of vocational services were associated with better employment outcomes, whereas higher cumulative amounts of psychiatric services were associated with poorer outcomes.
Conclusions: Supported employment models with high levels of integration of psychiatric and vocational services were more effective than models with low levels of service integration.