Objective: Although it is undisputable that patients with severe mental illness have impaired ability to work, the extent of this is unclear. This is a nation-wide, cross-sectional survey of patients who have been hospitalized with severe mental illness earning minimum wage or above.
Method: Data from the Israeli Psychiatric Hospitalization Case Registry were linked with nation-wide data from the National Insurance Institute (the equivalent of US Social Security) on personal income. Hospitalization data were obtained on all consecutive admissions to any psychiatric hospital in the country between 1990-2008 with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, other nonaffective psychotic disorders, or bipolar disorder (N = 35 673). Earning minimum wage or more was defined as earning at least 1000 USD/month, which was equivalent to minimum wage in Israel in December 2010.
Results: The percentages of patients with only 1 admission who were earning minimum wage or above in December 2010 were as follows: 10.6% of patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia; 21.6% of patients with a diagnosis of nonaffective psychotic disorders; and 24.2% of patients with bipolar disorder. The percentages of patients with multiple admissions who were earning minimum wage or above were as follows: 5.8% of patients with schizophrenia; 11.2% of patients with nonaffective psychotic disorders; and 19.9% of patients with bipolar disorder.
Conclusions: Despite potential confounders, the results indicate that patients with schizophrenia, nonaffective psychotic disorders, or bipolar disorder have a poor employment outcome, even if they have only been admitted once. These results emphasize the importance of improving interventions to re-integrate these individuals into the work force.
Keywords: employment; hospitalization; income; mental disorders.
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