Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Exploratory study of the relationship between sustained employment and psychosocial adjustment of people with psychiatric disabilities




2004 - 2009


Zlatka Russinova, Ph.D., Principal Investigator


The objective of this 5-year prospective, longitudinal study was to explore the patterns and predictors of long-term competitive employment among people with psychiatric disabilities. We designed the study to gather evidence about the capacity for people with psychiatric disabilities to work over prolonged periods of time, to identify the patterns of sustained competitive employment and to study the factors related to successful employment, including supports, disclosure, job satisfaction, work motivation, reasonable accommodations, and coping strategies used at the workplace.

We conducted this study with a geographically broad sample of 529 individuals who met established criteria for sustained competitive employment. We collected data on an annual basis with a survey instrument designed specifically for this study. Despite stable employment at study entry, more than half of the participants experienced work interruptions during the 5-year follow-up period. Predictors of sustained employment included the absence of: a trauma diagnosis, Social Security disability income, psychiatric hospitalizations, and difficulties with daily functioning. The presence of a higher quality of life, workplace supports, and a flexible job were also predictive. Results dispel the myth that people with serious mental illnesses cannot be employed for prolonged periods of time. Interruptions in work trajectories, however, suggest that longer-term supports may increase individuals’ capacity to maintain stable employment.


Russinova, Z., Bloch, P., Wewiorski, N., Shappell, H., & Rogers, E.S. (2018). Predictors of sustained employment among individuals with severe mental illness: Findings from a 5-year naturalistic longitudinal study. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 206(9), 669-679. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000876. Abstract can be obtained here.

Russinova, Z., Bloch, P.P., & Lyass, A. (2007), Patterns of employment among individuals with mental illness in vocational recovery. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 45(12), 48-54. Abstract can be found here.

Russinova, Z., Wewiorski, N. J., Lyass, A., Rogers, E. S., & Massaro, J. M. (2002). Correlates of vocational recovery for persons with schizophrenia. International Review of Psychiatry, 14(4), 303-311. Abstract can be found at here.



Inquiries related to the project should be addressed to:

Zlatka Russinova, Ph.D.
Boston University, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation
940 Commonwealth Avenue West, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02215

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