Methods: Individuals with severe mental illness enrolled in IPS supported employment were randomized to receive IPS with the addition of VR-JIT (IPS+VR-JIT) (n=36) or IPS only (n=23). Employment (or research) staff delivered VR-JIT via laptop computer lab located within the mental health service agency. The agency placed the computer lab at a site that was either geographically central among their satellite service provider locations (or on campus at the satellite providers). All participants completed (at pre-test and post-test) two job-interview role-plays (scores averaged together) and self-reported interviewing anxiety, interviewing self-efficacy, and interviewing motivation. Lastly, 6-month employment data were collected through self-report and validated via records review from n=40 participants (n=24 IPS+VR-JIT and n=16 IPS only).
Results: Participants randomized to receive IPS+VR-JIT (compared to IPS only) demonstrated improved interview role-play performance (Cohen’s d=0.40 vs. Cohen’s d= -0.20; p=0.002) and interviewing self-confidence (Cohen’s d=0.27 vs. Cohen’s d= -0.15; p=0.08) and interviewing motivation (Cohen’s d=0.28 vs. Cohen’s d= -0.25; p=0.07), and reduced interviewing anxiety (Cohen’s d= -0.44 vs. Cohen’s d= 0.06; p=0.05) between pre-test and post-test. Moreover, participants receiving IPS+VR-JIT had a higher employment rate by 6-month follow-up (58.3% vs. 25.0%, p=.038) and this increased likelihood of employment persisted (OR = 6.91, CI: 1.062, 44.96; p=.043) after covarying for past employment (OR = 6.75, CI: 1.127, 40.49; p=.038) and cognition (OR = 1.02, CI: 0.96, 1.09; p=.52). Lastly, we found that completing more virtual job interviews was correlated with reduced anxiety (r = -.41, p=.02) and increased motivation (r = .68, p<.001) at post-test.
Conclusions and Implications: These preliminary findings suggest that VR-JIT may demonstrate community effectiveness via enhanced employment readiness outcomes such as interviewing skill, increased efficacy, and reduced anxiety.