Effectiveness of supported employment for veterans with spinal cord injuries: results from a randomized multisite study

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 May;93(5):740-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.01.002.


Objective: To examine whether supported employment (SE) is more effective than treatment as usual (TAU) in returning veterans to competitive employment after spinal cord injury (SCI).

Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled, multisite trial of SE versus TAU for vocational issues with 12 months of follow-up data.

Setting: SCI centers in the Veterans Health Administration.

Participants: Subjects (N=201) were enrolled and completed baseline interviews. In interventional sites, subjects were randomly assigned to the SE condition (n=81) or the TAU condition (treatment as usual-interventional site [TAU-IS], n=76). In observational sites where the SE program was not available, 44 subjects were enrolled in a nonrandomized TAU condition (treatment as usual-observational site [TAU-OS]).

Interventions: The intervention consisted of an SE vocational rehabilitation program called the Spinal Cord Injury Vocational Integration Program, which adhered as closely as possible to principles of SE as developed and described in the individual placement and support model of SE for persons with mental illness.

Main outcome measures: The primary study outcome measurement was competitive employment in the community.

Results: Subjects in the SE group were 2.5 times more likely than the TAU-IS group and 11.4 times more likely than the TAU-OS group to obtain competitive employment.

Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first and only controlled study of a specific vocational rehabilitation program to report improved employment outcomes for persons with SCI. SE, a well-prescribed method of integrated vocational care, was superior to usual practices in improving employment outcomes for veterans with SCI.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Employment / economics
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Employment, Supported*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / statistics & numerical data
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*