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

Gary R Bond, Robert E Drake, Deborah R Becker
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 2008, 31 (4): 280-90

BACKGROUND: The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment for clients with severe mental illness has been described as a standardization of evidence-based supported employment. Although several reviews on the literature on its effectiveness have been conducted, the completion of several new studies suggests an updated review is warranted.

METHODS: We conducted a comprehensive literature search for randomized controlled trials of IPS, limiting our review to programs with high-fidelity IPS programs, locating 11 studies. We examined the following competitive employment outcomes: employment rates, days to first job, annualized weeks worked, and job tenure in longest job held during the follow-up period.

FINDINGS: Across the 11 studies, the competitive employment rate was 61% for IPS compared to 23% for controls. About two-thirds of those who obtained competitive employment worked 20 hours or more per week. Among those who obtained a competitive job, IPS participants obtained their first job nearly 10 weeks earlier than did controls. Among IPS participants who obtained competitive work, duration of employment after the start of the first job averaged 24.2 weeks per year, or 47% of the 52-week year.

CONCLUSIONS: The current review is consistent with earlier reviews, although the evidence for high-fidelity IPS appears to be somewhat stronger here than in reviews evaluating studies with more heterogeneity in the supported employment models examined. The number, consistency, and effect sizes of studies of evidence-based supported employment establish it as one of the most robust interventions available for persons with severe mental illness.

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