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Lancet. 1997 Jul 12;350(9071):96-100.

Effect of cognitive-behavioural training on job-finding among long-term unemployed people.

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Department of Psychology, University of London, UK.



The principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) have been applied successfully through individual psychotherapy to several psychiatric disorders. We adapted these principles to create a group--training programme for a non-psychiatric group-long-term (> 12 months) unemployed people. The aim was to investigate the effects of the programme on measures of mental health, job-seeking, and job-finding.


289 volunteers (of standard occupational classification professional groups) were randomly assigned to a CBT or control programme, matched for all variables other than specific content, that emphasised social support. 244 (134 CBT, 110 control) people started the programmes and 199 (109 CBT, 90 control) completed the whole 7 weeks of weekly 3 h sessions (including three CBT, seven control participants who withdrew because they obtained employment or full-time training). Questionnaires completed before training, on completion, and 3-4 months later (follow-up data available for 94 CBT, 89 control) assessed mental health, job-seeking activities, and success in job-finding. Analyses were based on those who completed the programmes. Participants were not aware that two interventions were being used. Investigators were aware of group allocation, but were accompanied in all programmes by co-trainers who were non-investigators.


Before training, 80 (59%) CBT-group participants and 59 (54%) controls scored 5 or more on the general health questionnaire (GHQ; taken to define psychiatric caseness). After training, 29 (21%) and 25 (23%), respectively, scored 5 or more (p < 0.001 for both decreases). Improvements in mean scores with training on the GHQ (between-group difference 3.91, p = 0.05) and in other measures of mental health were significantly greater in the CBT group than in the control group. There were no significant differences between the groups in job-seeking activity during or after training, but significantly more of the CBT group than of the control group had been successful in finding full-time work (38 [34%] vs 13 [13%], p < 0.001), by 4 months after completion of training.


These results suggest that group CBT training can improve mental health and produce tangible benefits in job-finding. Application of CBT among the unemployed is likely to benefit both individuals and society in general.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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