Study Protocol: A Multisite Trial of Work-Related Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Unemployed Persons with Social Anxiety

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


This paper provides a methodological description of a multi-site, randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for enhancing employment success among unemployed persons whose employment efforts have been undermined by social anxiety disorder (SAD). SAD is a common and impairing condition, with negative impacts on occupational functioning. In response to these documented employment-related impairments, in a previous project, we produced and tested an eight-session work-related group cognitive-behavioral therapy provided alongside vocational services as usual (WCBT + VSAU). WCBT is delivered by vocational service professionals and is designed in a context and style that overcomes accessibility and stigma-related obstacles with special focus on employment-related targets. Our previous project found that WCBT + VSAU significantly improved social anxiety, depression, and a range of employment-related outcomes compared to a control group of socially anxious job-seekers who received vocational services as usual without WCBT (VSAU-alone). Participants in this study were all homeless, primarily African American job-seekers with high levels of psychiatric comorbidity and limited education and employment histories. The present, two-region study addresses whether WCBT + VSAU enhances job placement, job retention and mental health outcomes in a larger sample assessed over an extended follow-up period. In addition, this trial evaluates whether the effects of WCBT + VSAU generalize to a new population of urban-based, racially diverse job-seekers with vocational and educational histories that differ from our original sample. This study also investigates the system-effects of WCBT + VSAU in a new site that will be informative for broad implementation of WCBT + VSAU. Finally, this project involves a refined, technology-assisted form of WCBT + VSAU designed to be delivered more easily by vocational services professionals.

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