A test of the occupational matching hypothesis for rehabilitation clients with severe mental illness

J Occup Rehabil. 2013 Jun;23(2):261-9. doi: 10.1007/s10926-012-9388-7.


Purpose: This study compared job matching rates for clients with severe mental illness enrolled in two types of employment programs. Also examined was the occupational matching hypothesis that job matching is associated with better employment outcomes.

Methods: The study involved a secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial comparing evidence-based supported employment to a diversified placement approach. The study sample consisted of 187 participants, of whom 147 obtained a paid job during the 2-year follow-up. Jobs were coded using the Dictionary of Occupational Titles classification system. Match between initial job preferences and type of job obtained was the predictor variable. Outcomes included time to job start, job satisfaction, and job tenure on first job.

Results: Most occupational preferences were for clerical and service jobs, and most participants obtained employment in these two occupational domains. In most cases, the first job obtained matched a participant's occupational preference. The occupational matching hypothesis was not supported for any employment outcome. The occupational matching rate was similar in this study to previous studies.

Conclusions: Most clients who obtain employment with the help of evidence-based supported employment or diversified placement services find jobs matching their occupational preference, and most often it is a rough match. Occupational matching is but one aspect of job matching; it may be time to discard actuarial classification systems such as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles as a basis for assessing job match.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Employment, Supported / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health Services
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Severity of Illness Index