High unemployment is a hallmark of psychotic illness. Individual placement and support (IPS) may be effective at assisting the vocational recoveries of young people with first-episode psychosis (FEP).
To examine the effectiveness of IPS at assisting young people with FEP to gain employment (Australian and Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000094370).
Young people with FEP (n = 146) who were interested in vocational recovery were randomised using computer-generated random permuted blocks on a 1:1 ratio to: (a) 6 months of IPS in addition to treatment as usual (TAU) or (b) TAU alone. Assessments were conducted at baseline, 6 months (end of intervention), 12 months and 18 months post-baseline by research assistants who were masked to the treatment allocations.
At the end of the intervention the IPS group had a significantly higher rate of having been employed (71.2%) than the TAU group (48.0%), odds ratio 3.40 (95% CI 1.17–9.91, z = 2.25, P = 0.025). However, this difference was not seen at 12- and 18-month follow-up points. There was no difference at any time point on educational outcomes.
This is the largest trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of IPS in FEP. The IPS group achieved a very high employment rate during the 6 months of the intervention. However, the advantage of IPS was not maintained in the long term. This seems to be related more to an unusually high rate of employment being achieved in the control group rather than a gross reduction in employment among the IPS group.
Declaration of interest