• supported employment;
  • individual placement and support;
  • vocational rehabilitation;
  • severe mental illness;
  • randomised controlled trial

Hoffmann H, Jäckel D, Glauser S, Kupper Z. A randomised controlled trial of the efficacy of supported employment.

Objective:  Although numerous randomised controlled trials indicated the superiority of supported employment (SE), we still have too little evidence that SE is more effective than traditional vocational rehabilitation programmes (TVR) in Western European countries with highly developed social security and welfare systems, sophisticated rehabilitation programmes and high thresholds to the open labour market. The aim of this study is to prove the efficacy of SE in Switzerland.

Method:  Following a 2-week intake assessment, 100 unemployed persons with stabilised severe mental illness (SMI) were randomly assigned to either the SE programme (n = 46) or to the most viable locally available TVR (n = 54). Follow-up lasted 24 months.

Results:  After the first year, the rate of competitive employment reached a mean level of 48.2% in the SE group and of 18.5% in the TVR group. 58.7% of the SE group were ever competitively employed as opposed to 25.9% of the TVR group. In the second year, SE group participants were competitively employed for 24.5 weeks as compared with 10.2 in the TVR group. The groups showed no significant differences in the non-vocational outcome criteria.

Conclusion:  The SE programme in Switzerland also proved more effective than TVR and seems to be applicable to the socio-economic context of Western European countries.