What is it about?

The IPS model of supported employment is the gold standard vocational rehabilitation program. We have shown for the first time that virtual reality job interview training improves employment for IPS clients with who don't typically benefit from IPS.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that virtual interview training improves interview skills, reduces interview anxiety, increases employment, and reduces time-to-employment. The easy-to-access virtual interview tool is hosted by a website and employment specialists can monitor their clients' progress through an administrative portal. Above all, the findings of this study are critical because we found that the IPS clients who benefited the most were those who were unable to find employment within their first 3 months of IPS. Among this subgroup, the virtual interview group were employed at 52% by 9 month follow-up compared to 19% in the comparison group who did not practice virtual interview training.


The nuances of this study battling against the limitations of recruitment (and the Covid-19 pandemic) enabled us to uncover a critical finding for mental health services. That is, clients who still struggle to find a job after three months of IPS engagement--had a drastic increase in employment after completing virtual reality job interview training. With a 52% employment rate compared to 19% in the IPS-as-usual group, this finding suggests that IPS--the field's gold standard service--can potentially be improved to support its most vulnerable clients. Given the study wasn't intentionally designed to evaluate this subgroup of IPS clients, we need to focus our next study on a hybrid type 2 design to include a fully-powered effectiveness RCT while simultaneously comparing the effectiveness (and cost effectiveness) of varied implementation methods within high fidelity IPS.

Matthew Smith
University of Michigan

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: An RCT of Virtual Reality Job Interview Training for Individuals With Serious Mental Illness in IPS Supported Employment, Psychiatric Services, September 2022, American Psychiatric Association, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.202100516.
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