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Effects of structured vocational services in ex-offender veterans with mental illness: 6-month follow-up (LePage et al. 2013)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

LePage, J. P., Lewis, A. A., Washington, E. L., Davis, B., & Glasgow, A. (2013). Effects of structured vocational services in ex-offender veterans with mental illness: 6-month follow-up. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, 50(2), 183-191. doi:10.1682/JRRD.2011.09.0163 [Self-study vs. VERC]

Highlights

  • The study examined the impact of self-study of the About Face (AF) manual on competitive employment.
  • In this nonexperimental study, the authors used statistical analyses to compare the employment outcomes of two groups of justice-involved veterans: (1) those who had access to the AF manual to study on their own (self-study program) and (2) those who only had access to the Veterans Employment Resource Center (VERC). The authors collected monthly data from participants in person or over the phone.
  • The study showed no significant differences in competitive employment between the self-study condition (11.9 percent hired) and the VERC-only condition (16.7 percent hired). The study also showed no significant differences in average months employed (0.16 months for the self-study condition and 0.35 months for the VERC-only condition).
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the AF manual; other factors likely contributed to the findings.

Intervention Examined

About Face

Features of the Intervention

The AF manual included 72 pages and covers topics such as identifying job skills, creating resumes, responding to challenging interview questions, and other interview strategies. One section of the manual covers the challenges of job searches for people with a history of incarceration and suggests strategies, such as connecting with a personal network, to find employment. The study team developed the manual using interviews with 200 justice-involved veterans; 22 justice-involved veterans provided detailed comments on the draft.

Features of the Study

In this nonexperimental study, the authors compared the outcomes of two groups of justice-involved veterans: (1) those who had access to the AF manual to study on their own (self-study program) and (2) those who only had access to the VERC. Thirty-three justice-involved veterans received the AF manual, and 15 justice-involved veterans only had access to the VERC. The authors collected monthly data from participants in person or over the phone.

Findings

Employment

  • The study showed no significant differences in competitive employment between the self-study condition (11.9 percent hired) and the VERC-only condition (16.7 percent hired).
  • The study also showed no significant differences in average months employed (0.16 months for the self-study condition and 0.35 months for the VERC-only condition).

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors did not show that the two groups of justice-involved veterans—those who received the AF manual and those who did not—were similar in terms of gender and pre-intervention employment. Since gender and work history are related to the outcome (competitive employment), the differences between the two groups on these two variables could have biased the study results. The authors did, however, show that the two groups of justice-involved veterans did not differ significantly based on criminal history.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the AF manual; other factors likely contributed to the findings.

Reviewed by CLEAR

April 2020

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