Empowerment in Supported Employment Research and Practice-Is it relevant?

The Vårdal Institute, The Swedish Institute for Health Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
International Journal of Social Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 1.15). 11/2011; 57(6):588-95. DOI: 10.1177/0020764010376606
Source: PubMed


This cross-sectional study is aimed at describing and investigating empowerment and its relationships with level of engagement in daily activities and community life, experienced stigma, psychopathology, and quality of life among people with mental illness entering supported employment.
The following scales were administered to 120 persons: Empowerment Scale, Profiles of Occupational Engagement Scale, Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life Scale, Rejection Experience Scale and Brief Psychiatric and Rating Scale.
Higher scores of empowerment were associated with fewer symptoms and experienced stigma, a higher level of engagement in daily activities and community life, better quality of life and having work rehabilitation. Self-efficacy and self-esteem were in particular significantly correlated to depressive symptoms. Descriptive statistics enveloped the group of participants that said 'Yes I want to work' with a somewhat high mean score for empowerment, level of engagement and quality of life, but a low mean score with regard to both symptoms and experienced stigma.
This study advocates the importance of evaluating empowerment in supported employment research and practice. The findings suggest the importance of taking into account not only monetary aspects of having a job but also social and psychological aspects such as empowerment, reduction in experienced stigma and community integration.

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    ABSTRACT: Objective: People with severe mental illness are often successful in gaining work when participating in the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support (IPS) approach. Little evidence exists on how starting work is perceived by IPS participants. This qualitative study aimed to explore how IPS participants perceived working and the work environment to impact on their work performance. Methods: Nineteen participants starting work in mainstream work settings were interviewed. Questions from the Work Environment Impact Scale were used and data was analysed by content analysis. The participants strove to fit in by coping with environmental demands and adapting to their worker role. Results: Work was perceived as having a positive impact on their daily life, although starting work was perceived as a challenge and the mental illness affected work performance. Personal strategies were needed in order to cope. They perceived both supportive and demanding factors in their work environments, such as the employer's support and the social atmosphere among colleagues. Conclusion: The study showed that it is vital to focus on the individual's own strategies for adapting to the worker role when designing the support, as well as to develop collaborative relationships with employers and to optimize the match between the individual and the demands of the work environment.
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Across several research studies comparing the individual placement and support (IPS) approach to traditional vocational services, the approach has achieved employment outcomes superior to comparison conditions. However, to understand the efficacy of IPS, it is equally important to consider what is more or less effective as viewed by the IPS participants. Aim: To investigate participants’ experiences of IPS participation and their experiences of receiving support from an employment specialist (ES). Method: Interviews were conducted with 17 persons with severe mental illness. The interviews were subjected to qualitative content analysis. The principles of informed consent and the voluntary nature of participation were included as ethical considerations. Results: Participation in IPS was associated with hope, meaning and an individualized support provided by the ES. The skills of the ES facilitated the relationship with the participant and the contact with the labour market. However, to make a change happen, everybody involved in IPS had to contribute. Conclusion: These findings have endorsed the guiding principles of IPS and emphasized the ES’s role and skills during IPS as well as the participant’s motivation.
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