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This study evaluated in a rigorous 18-month randomized controlled trial the efficacy of an enhanced vocational intervention for helping individuals with a recent first schizophrenia episode to return to and remain in competitive work or regular schooling.
Individual Placement and Support (IPS) was adapted to meet the goals of individuals whose goals might involve either employment or schooling. IPS was combined with a Workplace Fundamentals Module (WFM) for an enhanced, outpatient, vocational intervention. Random assignment to the enhanced integrated rehabilitation program (N = 46) was contrasted with equally intensive clinical treatment at UCLA, including social skills training groups, and conventional vocational rehabilitation by state agencies (N = 23). All patients were provided case management and psychiatric services by the same clinical team and received oral atypical antipsychotic medication.
The IPS–WFM combination led to 83% of patients participating in competitive employment or school in the first 6 months of intensive treatment, compared with 41% in the comparison group (p < 0.005). During the subsequent year, IPS–WFM continued to yield higher rates of schooling/employment (92% v. 60%, p < 0.03). Cumulative number of weeks of schooling and/or employment was also substantially greater with the IPS–WFM intervention (45 v. 26 weeks, p < 0.004).
The results clearly support the efficacy of an enhanced intervention focused on recovery of participation in normative work and school settings in the initial phase of schizophrenia, suggesting potential for prevention of disability.
Studies conducted in the USA have found the individual placement and support model of supported employment to be more effective than traditional vocational rehabilitation at helping people with severe mental illness to find and maintain competitive employment.
To determine the effectiveness of the individual placement and support (supported employment) model in a Canadian setting.
A total of 150 adults with severe mental illness, who were not currently employed and who desired competitive employment, were randomly assigned to receive either supported employment (n=75) or traditional vocational services (n=75).
Over the 12 months of follow-up, 47% of clients in the supported employment group obtained at least some competitive employment, v. 18% of the control group (P<0.001). They averaged 126 h of competitive work, v. 72 inthe control group (P<0.001).
Supported employment proved more effective than traditional vocational services in a setting significantly different from settings in the USA, and may therefore be generalised to settings in other countries.
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