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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 Jun;48(6):863-74. doi: 10.1007/s00127-012-0598-2. Epub 2012 Oct 13.

Occupational functioning, symptoms and neurocognition in patients with psychotic disorders: investigating subgroups based on social security status.

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  • 1Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Psychosis Research Unit, Ullevål Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, P.O. Box 4956, Nydalen, 0424, Oslo, Norway. martetan@student.sv.uio.no



Reported employment rates for patients with psychosis are low, but vary partly depending on illness phase. Illness-related factors such as neurocognition and negative symptoms are associated with occupational functioning, while external factors may also act as barriers for employment. The current study investigated the relationship between neurocognition, symptoms and employment using a threefold division of employment status: employed, receiving temporary benefits and receiving disability benefits. The latter group was divided into two based on level of social functioning.


A total of 155 patients with broad DSM-IV schizophrenia spectrum disorder were assessed with clinical, neurocognitive and social and occupational functioning measures. Group differences were analyzed with ANOVAs and hierarchical regression analysis.


Thirteen percent were employed, 52 % received temporary benefits and 35 % received disability benefits. There were no differences in symptom level and neurocognitive functioning between groups. Among patients on disability benefits, the subgroup with higher social functioning had fewer negative and general symptoms and a trend for better neurocognition compared with those with lower social functioning, thus being more similar to employed patients. Negative symptoms and executive functioning explained 26 % of the variance in social functioning for patients receiving disability benefits.


The association between neurocognition and employment may not be as strong as previously assumed, due to external factors that may influence this relationship. Patients on disability benefits rated high on social functioning showed similarities with employed patients. This could imply that these patients have some work capacity. This issue needs further investigation.

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