In a prior study we showed that cognitive functioning was a modest predictor of work and supported employment services over 2-years in 30 clients with schizophrenia, whereas symptoms were not (McGurk et al. (2003). Psychiatric Services, 58 , 1129–1135). In order to evaluate whether the long-term provision of supported employment services reduced the impact of cognitive functioning on work, we examined the relationships between cognitive functioning and symptoms assessed after the initial 2 years of the program, and work and vocational services over the following 2 years (3–4 years after joining the program). Cognitive functioning was more predictive of work during the latter 2 years of the study than the first 2 years, and a similar but weaker pattern was present for the prediction of employment services. Symptoms remained weak predictors for both time periods. In addition, learning and memory and executive functions were strongly correlated with job task complexity during the 3–4 year follow-up, but not the 1–2 year follow-up, suggesting that employment specialists were able to improve their ability to match clients to jobs based on their cognitive skills. Furthermore, the specific associations between cognitive functioning, services, and work outcomes changed from years 1–2 to years 3–4, suggesting a dynamic interplay between these factors over the long-term, rather than static and unchanging relationships. The findings indicate that rather than supported employment services reducing the impact of cognitive functioning on long-term competitive work, the impact actually increases over time, suggesting that efforts to improve cognitive functioning (e.g., cognitive rehabilitation) may optimize employment outcomes in schizophrenia.
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