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An RCT of Virtual Reality Job Interview Training for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness in IPS Supported Employment



Virtual reality job interview training (VR-JIT) is a computerized interview simulator with efficacy at enhancing interview skills and employment outcomes. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess VR-JIT effectiveness when implemented within the individual placement and support (IPS) model of supported employment where approximately 55% of individuals with serious mental illness obtain employment.




Ninety participants with serious mental illness were randomized to IPS+VR-JIT (n=54) or IPS-as-usual (n=36) and completed pre-test and post-test assessments with an employment outcome evaluation at nine-months post randomization. Intent-to-treat chi-square, multivariable logistic regression, Cox proportional hazards models, and mixed-effects linear regressions were conducted. Fifty-one percent of participants did not obtain employment within the first 90 days of IPS (i.e., IPS non-responders).




Chi-square revealed that IPS+VR-JIT did not yield significantly higher employment rates compared to IPS-as-usual (40.7% vs. 27.8%, p=.101). Post hoc analyses revealed IPS non-responders (n=46) in the IPS+VR-JIT group had greater odds of obtaining employment (OR=5.82, p=.014) and shorter time-to-employment (HR=2.70, p=.044) than IPS-as-usual. Intent-to-treat mixed-effects linear analyses of secondary outcomes indicated IPS+VR-JIT, as compared to IPS-as-usual, significantly improved their interview skills (p=.006), interview confidence (p=.013), and interview anxiety (p=.019).




The potential benefits of VR-JIT (increased employment, shorter time-to-employment) appear to be specific to IPS non-responders, while employment outcomes for recent IPS enrollees were not affected by VR-JIT. VR-JIT could be a valuable resource for employment specialists to support IPS non-responders as 47% of participants engaged in mock interview training with their employment specialist. Future research should focus on evaluating the effectiveness and implementation of VR-JIT among IPS non-responders.