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Psychiatric Services (2004) 55(1):54-58

Faith B. Dickerson, John J. Boronow, Cassie R. Stallings, Andrea E Origoni, Sara Cole, Robert H. Yolken


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify variables associated with employment status among persons with bipolar disorder, including cognitive functioning, severity of symptoms, demographic variables, and variables related to course of illness. Methods: The authors assessed the current employment status of 117 persons with bipolar disorder. Study participants’ cognitive functioning was evaluated with the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status, the information and letter-number sequencing subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale III, and part A of the Trial Making Test. Symptoms were rated by using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, The Hamilton Depression Scale, and the Young Mania Rating Scale. A stepwise multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to predict employment status.

Results: Fifty-one percent of the study participants had no current work activity, 21 percent worked part-time or as volunteers, and 27 percent had full-time competitive employment. Current employment status was significantly associated with cognitive performance, especially immediate verbal memory, total symptom severity, history of psychiatric hospitalization, and maternal education. No association was found between employment status and history of psychotic symptoms, number of years or education, or age at onset of illness.

Conclusions: Vocational programs for persons with bipolar disorder would benefit from inclusions of a formal cognitive assessment to better assess work potential and to study the predictors of work-related outcomes.


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