Advances in medical treatment combined with changes in the demographics of persons who are becoming infected with autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) have transformed this illness from a rapidly progressing to a chronically disabling condition in a short period of time. This paper describes the development, implementation, and outcomes of a program of vocational services for persons with AIDS. This program was studied using a single group design, in which participatory action research strategies were used to investigate and improve the program as it unfolded. In addition to examining the overall outcomes of services, the study aimed to discover which components were most helpful to participants and which participants were most likely to benefit from the program.
Of 129 participants of who initially enrolled, 39 dropped out before finishing the program. Sixty of the 90 participants who completed the program achieved employment, returned to school, or began a volunteer position or internship. Consequently, the overall success rate was 46.5% and the success rate for program completers was 66.7%. The occupational narrative, which participants told in their initial assessment interview, was closely associated with both program completion and successful outcomes. This association adds support to the importance of narrative for understanding participants and predicting future behavior, as well as for the therapy process.