Characteristics Predicting Successful Outcomes of Participants with Severe Mental Illness in Supported Education
OBJECTIVE: The study sought to identify characteristics of participants in a supported education program that were related to a successful outcome. Supported education programs provide rehabilitation and support services to help people attain postsecondary education.
METHODS: A total of 147 persons who completed such a program were interviewed six or 12 months later, or at both times, to determine whether they were involved in productive activity, which was defined as engaging in either college or vocational education or in paid employment. Variables examined as predictors of productive activity were demographic characteristics; education and work background; social support; self-perceptions related to self-esteem, empowerment, quality of life, and school self-efficacy; and illness-related variables, including diagnosis, symptoms, and length of illness.
RESULTS: Multivariate logistic regression identified the strongest predictor as productive activity at baseline. Marital status was the only significant demographic variable in the model; single participants were less likely to be engaged in productive activity. For participants who reported more frequent contact with their social network, the likelihood of engagement in productive activity was higher, and for those who reported more encouragement for education from their network, the likelihood was lower. A lower level of adjustment in the financial domain decreased the likelihood of productive activity, and a higher level of problems with housework increased the likelihood. No illness-related variable or self-perception was a significant predictor.
CONCLUSIONS: Factors related to a successful outcome from a supported education program for persons with severe mental illness are also likely to be important factors for nondisabled populations. Among those with mental illness, social support is a key factor in attaining educational and vocational goals. (Authors)
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