, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 342-354
Date: 09 Jun 2011

Job Acquisition for People with Severe Mental Illness Enrolled in Supported Employment Programs: A Theoretically Grounded Empirical Study

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Abstract

Introduction The main purpose of this study was to test a conceptual model based on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) to explain competitive job acquisition of people with severe mental disorders enrolled in supported employment programs. Methods Using a sample of 281 people with severe mental disorders participating in a prospective study design, the authors examined the contribution of the TPB in a model including clinical (e.g., severity of symptoms), psychosocial (e.g., self-esteem) and work related variables (e.g., length of time absent from the workplace) as predictors of job acquisition. Path analyses were used to test two conceptual models: (1) the model of job acquisition for people with mental illness adapted from the TPB, and (2) the extended TPB including clinical, psychosocial, and work related variables recognized in the literature as significant determinants of competitive employment. Results Findings revealed that both models presented good fit indices. In total, individual factors predicted 26% of the variance in job search behaviours (behavioural actions). However, client characteristics explained only 8% of variance in work outcomes, suggesting that environmental variables (e.g., stigma towards mental disorders) play an important role in predicting job acquisition. About 56% (N = 157) of our sample obtained competitive employment. Conclusion Results suggest that employment specialists can be guided in their interventions by the concepts found in the extended model of work integration since most of these are modifiable, such as perceived barriers to employment, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.