The stability of correlates of labour force activity

Policy and Economics Group, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica (Impact Factor: 5.61). 12/2008; 119(5):393-405. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2008.01303.x
Source: PubMed


To investigate the stability of correlates of labour force activity among people with affective and anxiety disorders, compared with healthy adults, between 1998 and 2003.
Secondary analyses of multi-stage probability samples of community residents (n(1998)=37,580 and n(2003)=36,088) obtained from repeat administrations of an Australian population survey.
Proportionally, fewer people with affective or anxiety disorders were employed compared with well controls. Extent of employment restrictions, sex, age left school, country of birth, age and educational attainment were strong correlates of labour force participation and current employment. These effects were stable despite improved labour market conditions in 2003.
These results can inform decisions about access to substantial forms of employment assistance. Subgroups of people with anxiety and depression, with severe employment restrictions, low education, low language proficiency, aged 15-24 years, or aged 55 years or more, may require greater access to substantial employment assistance.

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    • "In addition, employment is increasingly seen as a proxy for community participation, recovery, economic participation and social inclusion. These concepts are assuming an increasing importance in community mental health policy and disability employment policy (Waghorn et al., 2009a, b). Their application in national mental health policies implies a need for greater clarity about whether labour force participation can, or cannot, indicate recovery and social inclusion, and whether employment rates are universally associated with relative severity of psychiatric disorders. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore and review the range and quality of international epidemiological and observational studies reporting impacts of psychiatric disorders on labour force activity. This information is needed to explore the relative priority of different diagnostic groups for more intensive forms of vocational rehabilitation. Design/methodology/approach - The authors provide an overview of the current literature. A systematic review of papers measuring labour force variables and psychiatric disorders across a range of countries is conducted. These results are compared to OECD background unemployment rates during the same period. The results for each diagnostic category included are aggregated and compared to the other diagnostic categories. Findings - The proportions of people employed decreased with the more severe disorder categories, indicating that severe psychiatric illnesses are contributing to employment struggles for people with these illnesses, across countries. Research limitations/implications - This review is exploratory and shows that there is little consistency in reporting of labour force variables. Future research should endeavour to utilise internationally agreed definitions of labour force activity. Practical implications - This conclusion is relevant to matching community residents with psychiatric disorders to the more intensive and costly forms of vocational rehabilitation. Originality/value - To our knowledge, no previous review has examined diagnostic categories of psychiatric disorders by labour force activity internationally while taking into account background unemployment. This review found an employment gradient related to severity of diagnostic category that will be of interest to clinicians and policy makers.
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    ABSTRACT: At a population level the extent that psychiatric disorders and other health conditions disrupt participation in education and employment is rarely considered simultaneously and remains largely unknown. This is an important issue because policy makers are as concerned with educational attainment, school to work transitions, and workforce skills, as they are with overall labour force participation. We investigated earning or learning, and educational attainment, among Australian community residents by age group and by category of psychiatric disorder. Data files were provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from a population survey conducted in 2003 using a multi-stage probability sample (N=23,787). Adults with schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders were compared to (1) working age adults with other non-psychiatric health conditions and disabilities; and (2) healthy adults of working age. Participation in formal education and employment was extensively disrupted by all health conditions and by psychiatric disorders in particular. The extent of career-related disruption provides benchmarks for policy makers and service providers attempting to increase participation in formal education and in the labour force.
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