Objective: The job preferences of adults with severe mental illness who were participating in supported employment programs were examined.
Methods: Data were collected on job preferences, attainment of competitive employment, job satisfaction, and job tenure of 135 adults who participated in two supported employment programs in New Hampshire. Data obtained at baseline and at six-month follow-up were analyzed.
Results: When the clients entered the supported employment programs, 81 percent expressed job preferences, and their preferences tended to be realistic and stable. People who obtained employment in preferred areas were more satisfied with their jobs and remained in their jobs twice as long as those who worked in nonpreferred areas. Clients were more likely to develop a new job preference or to change their preference if they participated in a program that emphasized rapid job search than if they participated in a prevocational skills training program. They were also more likely to develop a preference or change their preference if they obtained a competitive job.
Conclusions: Helping people with severe mental illness obtain competitive jobs that correspond with their explicit job preferences increases job satisfaction and tenure. Job preferences are more likely to develop or change through searching for a job or working at a job than through prevocational training.