Few treatments are available to address employment or work functioning among individuals with bipolar disorder, despite substantial work impairment (e.g., reduced work productivity, poor performance) and instability in the job market. The Life Goals Collaborative Care, a type of evidenced-based collaborative care model (CCM) in community practice, focuses on self- and care-management by helping individuals manage their symptoms as a means of maximizing quality of life, but it does not specifically focus on employment. However, scientists in the Prechter research group wondered if improvements in symptoms may have a secondary effect on employment outcomes.
Prechter researchers examined the longitudinal course of employment outcomes during and after community patients participated in the Life Goals Collaborative Care program. They found that employment status (moving from unemployed to employed status) did improve over time, and depression symptoms were associated with this improvement. However, depressive symptoms were not associated with changes in disability status. Greater number of Life Goals sessions completed were also associated with greater likelihood of employment status and number of hours worked.
These results suggest that the Life Goals Collaborative Care program is a promising treatment model to influence more global indicators of functioning in bipolar disorder, beyond self-reports of affective symptoms and quality of life. Implementation of the Life Goals Collaborative Care program or similar collaborative care models may hold promise in helping individuals with Bipolar Disorder or other serious mental disorders achieve competitive employment, increasing number of hours worked, reducing the cost of disability and lost wages.