Aims: Young adults with early psychosis want to pursue normal roles - education and employment. This paper summarises the empirical literature on the effectiveness of early intervention programmes for employment and education outcomes.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of employment/education outcomes for early intervention programmes, distinguishing three programme types: (1) those providing supported employment, (2) those providing unspecified vocational services and (3) those without vocational services. We summarised findings for 28 studies.
Results: Eleven studies evaluated early intervention programmes providing supported employment. In eight studies that reported employment outcomes separately from education outcomes, the employment rate during follow-up for supported employment patients was 49%, compared with 29% for patients receiving usual services. The two groups did not differ on enrolment in education. In four controlled studies, meta-analysis showed that the employment rate for supported employment participants was significantly higher than for control participants, odds ratio = 3.66 [1.93-6.93], p < 0.0001. Five studies (four descriptive and one quasi-experimental) of early intervention programmes evaluating unspecified vocational services were inconclusive. Twelve studies of early intervention programmes without vocational services were methodologically heterogeneous, using diverse methods for evaluating vocational/educational outcomes and precluding a satisfactory meta-analytic synthesis. Among studies with comparison groups, 7 of 11 (64%) reported significant vocational/education outcomes favouring early intervention over usual services.
Conclusions: In early intervention programmes, supported employment moderately increases employment rates but not rates of enrolment in education. These improvements are in addition to the modest effects early programmes alone have on vocational/educational outcomes compared with usual services.
Keywords: Early intervention; early psychosis; employment; supported employment.