Barriers to Employment for People With Schizophrenia

Robert Rosenheck, Douglas Leslie, Richard Keefe, Joseph McEvoy, Marvin Swartz, Diana Perkins, Scott Stroup, John K. Hsiao, and Jeffrey Lieberman

March 2006

There is growing interest in identifying and surmounting barriers to employment for people with schizophrenia. The authors examined factors associated with participation in competitive employment or other vocational activities in a large group of patients with schizophrenia who participated in the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) study, a multisite clinical trial comparing the effects of first- and second-generation antipsychotics. Altogether, 14.5% of the patients reported participating in competitive employment in the month before the baseline assessment, 12.6% reported other (noncompetitive) employment activity, and 72.9% reported no employment activity. Participation in either competitive or noncompetitive employment was associated with having less severe symptoms, better neurocognitive functioning, and higher scores on a measure of intrapsychic functioning that encompassed motivation, empathy, and other psychological characteristics. Competitive employment, in contrast to other employment or no employment, was negatively associated with receipt of disability payments as well as with being black. Greater access to rehabilitation services was associated with greater participation in both competitive and noncompetitive employment.  Researchers conclude that overall employment of persons with schizophrenia seems to be impeded by clinical problems, and participation in competitive employment may be specifically impeded by race and by the potentially adverse incentives of disability payments, but may be promoted by the availability of rehabilitation services.

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