Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Twamley, E. W., Padin, D. S., Bayne, K. S., Narvaez, J. M., Williams, R. E., & Jeste, D. V. (2005). Work rehabilitation for middle-aged and older people with schizophrenia: a comparison of three approaches. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 193 (9), 596-601.
Title:  Work rehabilitation for middle-aged and older people with schizophrenia: a comparison of three approaches
Authors:  Twamley, E. W., Padin, D. S., Bayne, K. S., Narvaez, J. M., Williams, R. E., & Jeste, D. V.
Year:  2005
Journal/Publication:  The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Publisher:  Lippencott, Williams, and Wilkins
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Cross-sectional

Structured abstract:

Background:  There are increasing numbers of middle-aged and older people with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, most of whom are unemployed. Across all age groups, rates of paid employment among people with these disorders are less than 15%. Yet the potential benefits of employment (e.g., increased income, activity, structure, socialization, and self-esteem) could improve symptoms, everyday functioning, and overall health. Many older people with severe mental illness (SMI) want to work. However, work rehabilitation programs usually do not target older patients, and no published studies have addressed work rehabilitation specifically in middle-aged and older people with SMI.
Purpose:  examined employment outcomes among middle-aged and older clients with schizophrenia in three work rehabilitation programs that varied in their emphasis on conventional vocational rehabilitation (train-then-place) versus supported employment principles (place-then-train). We analyzed retrospective data from 36 veterans receiving VA Wellness and Vocational Enrichment Clinic (WAVE) services and prospective data from a randomized controlled trial of 30 subjects receiving Department of Rehabilitation/Employment Services (DOR) or Individual Placement and Support (IPS).
Setting:  Study settings were three separate programs: (a) the VA San Diego Healthcare System's Wellness and Vocational Enrichment Clinic (WAVE), (b) the Department of Rehabilitation/Employment Services (DOR), and (c) IPS. The WAVE Clinic provides conventional vocational rehabilitation (CVR) with some elements of SE. The DOR provides CVR services, as do most of the federally funded state agencies across the United States.
Study sample:  Participants were 40 years of age or older and had DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) diagnoses of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder made by their treating psychiatrists and confirmed by a diagnostic chart review by trained research staff. Exclusion criteria were alcohol or substance dependence within the past month and presence of dementia or other major neurological disorders.
Intervention:  Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is a systematic approach to helping people with severe mental illness achieve competitive employment. It is based on eight principles: eligibility based on client choice, focus on competitive employment, integration of mental health and employment services, attention to client preferences, work incentives planning, rapid job search, systematic job development, and individualized job supports. Systematic reviews have concluded that IPS is an evidence-based practice.
Control or comparison condition:  Two Comparison Conditions: (1) WAVE: The WAVE Clinic assists veterans in achieving work readiness by providing prevocational classes and job contracts with various community employers. WAVE services are consistent with CVR, but unlike most CVR programs, the vocational services are integrated with psychiatric services. (2)Department of Rehabilitation: In San Diego, vocational rehabilitation services for clients with mental illness are contracted to an organization called Employment Services. Individuals first become DOR clients and are then referred to Employment Services. To become a DOR client, the individual must first attend an orientation session and then attend an intake appointment with a DOR counselor. Following the intake appointment, the DOR has 60 days to determine eligibility for services. Once eligibility has been approved, clients are referred to Employment Services and assigned a vocational counselor (a bachelor's-level or master's-level provider with a typical caseload of 35 clients). Job development and job coaching are provided by additional staff members. The DOR uses a train-then-place approach; individuals receive job readiness coaching and attend pre-vocational classes before their job search begins.
Data collection and analysis:  All participants were classified as working (including volunteering) at any point in the study or nonworking for the analyses. Three IPS subjects and three DOR subjects decided not to pursue work and dropped out of the prospective study, but these subjects were included in the analyses. We used analysis of variance, [chi]2, and logistic regression techniques to analyze the data. All variables were distributed normally. The [alpha] for significance was set at p < 0.05, and all tests were two-tailed.
Findings:  Across interventions, half the subjects obtained volunteer or paid work. IPS participants, those with schizophrenia (versus schizoaffective disorder), and those with more education were more likely to work or volunteer. Rates of volunteer or paid work were 81% in IPS, 44% in WAVE, and 29% in DOR. Rates of competitive/paid work only were highest in IPS (69%), followed by DOR (29%) and WAVE (17%).
Conclusions:  Although they are typically written off as having little potential to return to work, especially paid work, middle-aged and older people with severe mental illnesses can obtain employment. Furthermore, they are more likely to do so in the context of a supported employment intervention than with traditional vocational services.

Disabilities served:  Chronic mental illness
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Race: Black / African American
Race: White / Caucasian
Ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino
Interventions:  Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment
Rehabilitation counseling
Vocational rehabilitation
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition