Receipt of employment services among Veterans Health Administration users with psychiatric diagnoses

This study examined the population-based reach of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) employment services to VHA patients with psychiatric diagnoses. Reach of services includes the percentage and characteristics of people who accessed services compared with those who did not. Using clinical administrative data, we identified patients with a psychiatric diagnosis among a random sample of all patients who received VHA services in 1 yr. Among VHA patients with psychiatric diagnoses, we examined their likelihood of receiving any VHA employment services and specific types of employment services, including supported employment, transitional work, incentive therapy, and vocational assistance. We identified clinical and demographic characteristics associated with receiving employment services. Results indicated that 4.2% of VHA patients with a psychiatric diagnosis received employment services. After adjusting for clinical and demographic characteristics, VHA patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were more likely to receive any employment services and to receive supported employment than were patients with depression, PTSD, or other anxiety disorders. VHA patients with depression and PTSD were more likely to receive transitional work and vocational assistance than patients with schizophrenia. Future studies should examine system-level barriers to receiving employment services and identify types of employment services most appropriate for Veterans with different psychiatric diagnoses.