Strategies for coping with cognitive impairments of clients in supported employment

Psychiatr Serv. 2006 Oct;57(10):1421-9. doi: 10.1176/ps.2006.57.10.1421.


Objective: This study evaluated the strategies used by employment specialists to help clients in supported employment programs manage cognitive impairments that interfered with obtaining and keeping jobs.

Methods: Twenty-five supported employment specialists were surveyed to identify strategies they used to help their clients cope with cognitive problems in the domains of attention, psychomotor speed, memory, and problem solving. Then, 50 employment specialists were surveyed to determine whether they used each of the different coping strategies generated in the first part of the study. For each strategy used, they rated how effective it was.

Results: Employment specialists reported using a total of 76 different strategies for helping their clients cope with cognitive difficulties. The specialists reported using an average of 48 different coping strategies, which they rated on average as just below effective. Strategies for dealing with attention problems were rated as more effective than strategies used in the other three domains. The number of coping strategies that they reported using was significantly correlated with the perceived effectiveness of the strategies and the proportion of clients in their caseload who were working.

Conclusions: Supported employment specialists were actively involved in helping clients cope with their cognitive impairments. Use of more strategies was correlated with specialists' greater perceived effectiveness of the strategies and with higher rates of working clients on their caseloads, although the reasons for these associations are unclear. Further research is needed to evaluate whether employment specialists' use of more strategies to help clients cope with cognitive problems contributes to better work outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attention
  • Cognition Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Employment, Supported*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychomotor Disorders / epidemiology