The role of cognition in vocational functioning in schizophrenia

Susan R. McGurk*, Herbert Y. Meltzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

296 Scopus citations


Schizophrenia is associated with long-term unemployment. Cognitive dysfunction, rather than clinical symptoms, may be the most important factor in the ability to work for patients with this disorder. To evaluate the relationship of clinical symptoms and cognitive functioning to work status, thirty patients with schizophrenia, who were participants in a vocational rehabilitation program, were evaluated with a comprehensive neuropsychological battery and assessment of psychopathology. Subjects were classified as being in stable full-time, part-time or unemployed work status for at least a year. Univariate analysis indicated that patients who were working full-time were significantly better educated, more likely to be treatment-resistant, more likely to be treated with an atypical antipsychotic medication, had more positive symptoms, and were engaged in work tasks which were more cognitively complex than the part-time employed and unemployed work groups. An ANCOVA controlling for education demonstrated that the full-time employed group performed significantly better than the unemployed group on measures of executive functioning, working memory and vigilance; and significantly better than the part-time group on measures of vigilance and executive functioning. Although negative symptoms did not significantly relate to work status in the univariate analysis, a multiple regression indicated that negative symptoms, level of education, and executive functioning differentiated the work groups. These results suggest that poor premorbid function, negative symptoms and cognitive dysfunction are significantly associated with unemployment in schizophrenia. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-184
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 27 2000


  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Employment
  • Univariate analysis
  • Vocational rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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