Enrollment in supported employment services for clients with a co-occurring disorder

Psychiatr Serv. 2011 May;62(5):545-7. doi: 10.1176/ps.62.5.pss6205_0545.


Objective: People with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders are often excluded from vocational services, despite the lack of evidence that having a substance use disorder prevents them from being able to work. This study explored enrollment in supported employment services among clients with and without co-occurring substance use disorders.

Methods: With data from electronic medical records from a psychiatric rehabilitation agency, relationships between co-occurring substance use disorders and supported employment were examined among 1,748 clients with serious mental illnesses who were consecutively admitted to the agency over a two-year period.

Results: Despite a similar interest in employment, clients with a co-occurring substance use disorder were 52% less likely than those without to enroll in a supported employment program. Those who were enrolled had similar competitive employment rates (25% for those with co-occurring disorders and 28% for those without).

Conclusions: People with co-occurring substance disorders have reduced rates of enrollment in supported employment services.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chicago
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Employment, Supported*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Mental Disorders* / rehabilitation
  • Middle Aged
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / rehabilitation