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Employment Low, But Achievable in Schizophrenia

Patients more likely to be employed if symptoms are controlled and they have rehabilitation services

THURSDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Employment rates of schizophrenia patients are low, but patients have a better chance of being employed if their symptoms are controlled and if they have good neurocognitive and intrapsychic function, according to a study in the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Robert Rosenheck, M.D., of the Veterans Administration Connecticut Health Care System in West Haven, and colleagues examined factors associated with competitive employment or vocational activities in 1,438 schizophrenia patients.

Overall, 14.5 percent of patients were competitively employed, 12.6 were noncompetitively employed, and the remainder were unemployed. Patients with jobs tended to have less severe symptoms, better cognitive function, and higher intrapsychic function including motivation, empathy, and other psychological characteristics. Employed patients were more likely to have access to rehabilitation services. Patients who were black or receiving disability payments were less likely to be competitively employed.

"Overall employment of persons with schizophrenia seems to be impeded by clinical problems, including symptoms of schizophrenia and poorer neurocognitive and intrapsychic functioning," Rosenheck and colleagues concluded. "However, participation in competitive employment may be specifically impeded by the potentially adverse incentives of disability payments and by race and may be promoted by the availability of rehabilitation services."

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