Work rehabilitation for middle-aged and older people with schizophrenia: a comparison of three approaches
|Authors:||van den Hout, J. H. C., Vlaeyen, J. W. S., Heuts, P. H. T. G., Zijlema, J. H. L., & Wijnen, J. A. G.|
|Publication||The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease|
|Publisher||Lippencott, Williams, and Wilkins|
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.
To examine 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).
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.
Participants were 40 years of age or older and had DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) diagnosis 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.
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.
Two Comparison Conditions:
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%).
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.
|Populations||Hispanic or Latino | Black / African American | White / Caucasian | Male & Female|
|Research Design||Mixed methods, Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)|