An update on randomized controlled trials of evidence-based supported employment

Authors: Bond, G. R., McHuggo, G. J., Becker, D.R., Rapp, C. A., & Whitley, R.
Year Published 2008

Supported employment is the best described and most widely used practice for supporting people with mental illness. Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) evidence accumulates quickly; as such, reviews of RCTs become obsolete as new data become available.


The current review was conducted to provide a "comprehensive summary of competitive employment outcomes for RCTs evaluating evidence-based supported employment for this population" (p. 281).


This study is a systematic review. The included studies were undertaken in various locations and settings


To be included in this review, a study had to be an RCT design, which examined longitudinal competitive employment outcomes for people with severe mental illness. Participants must have been "randomly assigned to two or more conditions, one of which used a high-fidelity IPS supported employment model" (p. 281). Another requirement for inclusion in this review was that the control group(s) must have received services as usual, other than IPS.

Eleven studies were included in the current literature review that included individuals with mental illness.

Data Collection

"Three main sources were used to identify studies" (p. 281). The first source was published literature reviews, the second was to review studies in the Employment Intervention Demonstration Project, and the third was to contact "principal investigators and continuous review of the published literature" (p. 281).

Data were recorded directly from published reports or calculated by hand from the information presented.


There were no comparison or control conditions.


Comprehensive employment rates were significantly higher for IPS (61%) than for the control groups (23%). In addition, people in IPS worked 20 hours per week or more (43.6%), compared to the control groups (14.2%). The average time to obtain a job for people with IPS was 50% faster than those in the control groups, ranging between 4 and 5 months for those with IPS. The average weeks worked for those with IPS was over two times that of the control groups.


The majority of IPS participants obtain competitive employment at a significantly higher rate than those in other vocational programs. Most IPS participants work part-time, possibly due to health or financial considerations. In addition, the IPS model supports a rapid job placement; most clients are placed are placed in a competitive job within the first six months.

Disabilities Emotional disturbance
Populations Hispanic or Latino | Asian | Black / African American | White / Caucasian | Male & Female
Outcomes Employment acquisition
NIDILRR Funded Not Reported
Research Design Systematic reviews and meta-analysis
Peer Reviewed Yes