Predictors of employment outcome for people with psychiatric disabilities: A review of the literature since the mid '80s

Wing Hong Hector Tsang, Paul Lam, Bacon Ng, Odelia Leung

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

153 Citations (Scopus)


Employment outcomes of patients and their significant predictors has been an area of intensive study in mental health research. A literature review shows that, due to conflicting results of research studies, researchers are still not sure whether or not some clinical and demographic variables are consistent predictors of future vocational performance of psychiatric patients. This paper reviews controlled studies since the mid 80's pertaining to the identification of significant predictors of employment outcome of the psychiatric population. A total of 35 relevant studies (screened from a collection of 921 articles extracted from PsycLit, Medline, Allied Health and Nursing Abstracts, and Social Work Abstract) were reviewed by a panel of three university professors and three senior clinicians in the field. The review shows that functioning before the onset of mental illness, work history, and social skills are consistent predictors that are similar to previous studies. Symptomatology which refers to abnormalities in moods, thoughts, and behaviors resulting from the mental illness and diagnosis continued to have contradictory results. The results were discussed in the context of research design, method, and data analysis strategies. Some relatively neglected aspects, such as cognitive function and family relationship, were found to be significant predictors and were discussed. Implications for rehabilitation professionals and recommendations for further research are made.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-31
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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