Objective: This study was conducted to determine whether augmenting supported employment with cognitive remediation can improve vocational outcomes and whether augmentation is more important for participants with lower community functioning.
Methods: In this secondary analysis of data from two related, single-blind, randomized controlled trials, 175 participants with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder received supported employment or supported employment plus cognitive remediation and were classified into higher or lower community functioning according to a median split of their quality-of-life scores at baseline. Participants received one year of active intervention and follow-up a year later. Primary outcome measures were competitive employment rates and total hours of work.
Results: Employment rates over two years for participants with lower community functioning were significantly different for the two conditions (supported employment=20%, plus cognitive remediation=49%, p<.005), whereas participants with higher functioning showed equivalent rates of employment (62% versus 54%, ns). Among lower-functioning participants, those who received cognitive remediation also worked significantly more hours over two years than those who received supported employment only, but higher-functioning participants worked similar amounts of hours in both conditions. Improvements in cognitive functioning and intrinsic motivation were related to employment outcomes but only for the lower-functioning group in the supported employment plus cognitive remediation condition, suggesting possible mechanisms for the observed effects.
Conclusions: Augmenting supported employment with cognitive remediation may boost vocational outcomes for participants with lower community functioning but may not be necessary for those functioning better in their communities.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00339170.