Effect of job skills training on employment and job seeking behaviors in an American Indian substance abuse treatment sample

Authors: Fong, C. J., Murphy, K. M., Westbrook, J. D., & Markle, M. M.
Year Published 2010
Publication Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Volume 33
Number 3
Pages 181-192
Publisher IOS Press

Employment problems are often significant in American Indian communities. Barriers such as historically high unemployment rates or a lack of job finding skills may contribute to lower than expected job skills and career development. Likewise, unemployment is high for those with substance abuse disorders. There is little empirical research addressing interventions for American Indians with substance abuse disorders for improving employment status.


The purpose of this study was to implement the Job Seekers Workshop (JSW), a 12-hour job search-training program, in an American Indian addiction treatment program, and to evaluate its outcomes in comparison to the Job Interview Videos (JIV), a 40-minute two-part video.


The study setting was the Na Nizhoozhi Center (NCI) in Gallup, NM. The NCI is a 150-bed facility that provides culturally specific treatment programs to meet the needs of American Indian.


The study sample consisted of 102 individuals with American Indian heritage who were drug and/or alcohol dependent, 18 years of age or older, enrolled at NCI for at least 10 days, categorized as either unemployed (i.e., not having worked at all for the month prior to study recruitment) or underemployed (i.e., having worked no more than 20 hours/week in any
given week during the past month), and interested in obtaining a job. The majority were Navajo males.

Data Collection

The measures included several standardized instruments measuring addiction severity, current use of substances, reading ability, and life experiences. Employment information was captured using the Timeline Follow Back for Employment (TLFB-E). Two variables served as primary outcomes: 1) time (number of days) to employment, either a new taxed job or enrollment in a job-training program within the follow-up period, and 2) total hours either working or enrolled in a job-training program within the time period. Time to employment and time to enrollment in a job-training program were tested using the Cox Regression procedure. Analyses addressing the number of participants reporting employment or enrollment in a training program were conducted using Chi-square tests. Analyses focused on hours spent working or in training were conducted using an analysis of variance (ANOVA). Comparisons based on repeated measures over time were tested using multivariate repeated measures analyses of variance (MANOVA).


The study used a two-group comparison design.


There were no significant differences between the JSW and JIV groups at baseline, nor were there differences in completion time of the program or time to employment at either three or six months following completion or in job-seeking behaviors. A significant difference was found on enrollment in a training program, with more participants who were involved in the JIV intervention enrolled in a training program than in the JSW intervention. Satisfaction was rated relatively high for both programs. There were also no differences in substance use post-completion, with both groups reporting reduced use.


Although both groups showed some gains in employment from baseline to follow-up, overall rates of employment remained low at follow-up, averaging less than 50 total hours worked within the first three months following randomization. However, positive changes were observed related to substance use. Significant differences in the primary outcomes were not detected between the JSW and JIV interventions

URL http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-vocational-rehabilitation/jvr526
Populations Male & Female | Hispanic or Latino | American Indian or Alaska Native
Outcomes Employment acquisition | Increase in hours worked | Part-time employment
Research Design Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)
Peer Reviewed Yes