Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Sweetland, J., Howse, E., & Playford, E.D. (2012). A systematic review of research undertaken in vocational rehabilitation for people with multiple sclerosis. Disability and Rehabilitation, 34 (24), 2031-2038.
Title:  A systematic review of research undertaken in vocational rehabilitation for people with multiple sclerosis
Authors:  Sweetland, J., Howse, E., & Playford, E.D.
Year:  2012
Journal/Publication:  Disability and Rehabilitation
Publisher:  Informa Healthcare
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported
Research design:  Systematic review / meta-analysis

Structured abstract:

Background:  A systematic review of the literature related to vocational rehabilitation for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) was required to develop quality controls in the United Kingdom. The majority of people with MS in the US or UK are employed or going to school full time. Most studies have looked at barriers to work. Research also validates that they experience high rates of unemployment. Those who do work report being healthier, more socially active, more financially secure and enjoying a higher quality of life. Notably, a recent Cochrane review indicated little evidence related to MS and vocational rehabilitation.
Purpose:  The aim of this systematic review of the literature was to identify factors leading to unemployment and investigate successful vocational rehabilitation interventions.
Setting:  This is a systematic review. The studies reviewed were undertaken in various locations and settings.
Study sample:  Initially, four hundred and sixty two papers were identified related to individuals with MS. This number was reduced to eighty nine studies for review.
Intervention:  This is a systematic review.
Control or comparison condition:  There was no control or comparison of conditions in this systematic review.
Data collection and analysis:  Six data bases were systematically searched. This yielded 462 articles. This was reduced to 89 for review. Each paper was evaluated by two reviewers using a specific typology of evidence. The two main groups of evidence were expert evidence and research evidence. This is very different than the approach used in a Cochrane review. If there was a disagreement on scores a third reviewer was involved.
Findings:  The review of literature found studies supporting a number of factors leading to unemployment of individuals with multiple sclerosis. These included disease related factors, working environment and work demands. A number of studies examined what helps individuals with MS stay employed. No literature was found related to how vocational rehabilitation services should be funded or sustained.
Conclusions:  The review of literature revealed that within the larger group of studies that there are some small ones that use qualitative methodologies. When looked at in its entirety these qualitative studies provide evidence about various types of interventions that may be helpful to individuals with MS who want to stay employed. More research is needed.

Disabilities served:  Multiple sclerosis
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Race: Black / African American
Race: White / Caucasian
Rural and remote communities