Multi-site systems intervention for unemployed persons with social anxiety The goal of the proposed research is to conduct a multi-site trial of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for enhancing employment success among unemployed persons whose job attainment efforts have been undermined by social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder is a very common and impairing condition, with negative impacts on occupational functioning. Work-related impairments include turning down job offers and promotions, reduced productivity and job performance, lowered educational attainment, increased unemployment, financial dependence, and reduced income. We have shown that social anxiety disorder was the strongest psychiatric predictor of sustained reliance on welfare for support. In response to these documented employment-related impairments, we produced an eight-session work-related group cognitive behavioral therapy (WCBT) that, when coupled with standard vocational rehabilitation services, significantly improved social anxiety, depression, job search behaviors and job search self-confidence compared to a control group of socially anxious jobs seekers who received only vocational services as usual (VAU). Participants in this pilot R34 study were all homeless, primarily African American, urban-based job-seekers with high levels of psychiatric comorbidity and limited education and employment histories. WCBT is designed in a context and style that overcomes accessibility and stigma-related obstacles with special focus on employment-related targets. The current collaborative RO1 will involve two academic, investigative teams and the staff of two community-based employment service agencies to further evaluate WCBT compared to VAU. This two-region study will address whether WCBT enhances job placement and retention assessed over a one-year interval. In addition, this trial will test the implementation of WCBT in a new vocational service agency that was not involved in the development of WCBT, and whether the effects of WCBT generalize to a new population of urban-based, racially diverse job-seekers with educational and educational histories that differ from the original WCBT study site. We will also investigate the system effects of WCBT in the new site that will be informative for broad implementation of WCBT nationwide. Finally, as an innovative extension from the R34, this project will incorporate implementation tools of technology-assisted provider training and delivery of WCBT.
Social anxiety disorder is a highly prevalent condition that interferes with employment. Prior research indicates that social anxiety disorder interferes with work attainment. This project involves a two-site randomized trial of a community-based cognitive-behavioral intervention to reduce social anxiety and improve employment outcomes among unemployed persons with social anxiety disorder.