Workplace accommodations and job success for persons with bipolar disorder

Work. 2011;40(4):479-87. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2011-1259.


Objective: This research seeks to identify job characteristics and workplace policies conducive to the job success of individuals with bipolar disorder, and to examine the interactions between employers and bipolar employees regarding requested workplace accommodations.

Participants: The study population consists of 39 adults who were in outpatient care and diagnosed with bipolar I or II disorder.

Methods: Each participant completed a mail-in questionnaire regarding workplace characteristics that would enhance job performance.

Results: Primary beneficial work characteristics reported are schedule flexibility, autonomy, and supervisor willingness to provide accommodations. Specific helpful characteristics noted by participants include allowances for working at home, leaves of absence, frequent breaks, barriers between work spaces, control over goal-setting, creativity, and avoidance of jobs with pace set by machinery. Twelve of the 26 workers requested workplace changes, and of the 12 requests, 10 were implemented. Incidents of employer bias were reported.

Conclusion: The experiences of the survey participants regarding beneficial workplace accommodations may help to improve the productivity and well-being of other individuals with bipolar disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Employment / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organizational Policy*
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / psychology
  • Workload / psychology
  • Workplace / organization & administration