Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Roessler, R.T., Rumrill, P.D. Jr., Hennessey, M.L., Vierstra, C., Pugsley, E., & Pittman, A. (2003). Perceived strengths and weaknesses in employment policies and services among people with multiple sclerosis: Results of a national survey. Work, 21 25-36.
Title:  Perceived strengths and weaknesses in employment policies and services among people with multiple sclerosis: Results of a national survey
Authors:  Roessler, R.T., Rumrill, P.D. Jr., Hennessey, M.L., Vierstra, C., Pugsley, E., & Pittman, A.
Year:  2003
Journal/Publication:  Work
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12897388   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Survey research

Structured abstract:

Background:  People with multiple sclerosis have high rates of unemployment. Helping this group stay at work or obtain new employment has a positive impact on individuals with MS and benefits society. One way to improve employment outcomes for people with MS is to examine their concerns abut employment policies and services. This information can help ensure employment policy initiatives and vocational rehabilitation and other interventions are meeting their needs and filling gaps.
Purpose:  This goal of the study was to update and expand upon existing research by describing strengths and weaknesses in employment policies and practices.
Setting:  The instrument was completed by people with MS in various settings.
Study sample:  Participants were 1,310 members from ten National Multiple Sclerosis Society chapters across the United States. The majority (79%) of the respondents were female (79%). The average age of the participants was 50 years old. Most or 92% were white. The group was also educated and 40% had a college degree. A little over forty percent or 43% reported being employed at the time of the survey. Illness symptoms varied. The most frequent symptom reported was fatigue (82%).
Intervention:  There was no intervention.
Control or comparison condition:  There was no control or comparison condition.
Data collection and analysis:  A 86 item questionnaire was used. It gathered information about demographics, illness related variables, and employment concerns. The employment concern items formed the basis for this research. Thirty two items addressed a wide range of potential concerns like access to information on benefits programs to access to high quality vocational rehabilitation and employment services. The list of concerns was devised from consultation with members from two NMSS chapters. After the survey was developed it was mailed out to 5,040 participants. A total of 1,310 surveys were returned for analysis. Data was aggregated and summarized. Next focus groups, that included providers and people with MS, were held to present the trends and receive feedback and interpretations on the findings.
Findings:  The survey results revealed that the majority of respondents were satisfied with three of thirty two items. The strengths were having access to service providers, treated with respect by service providers, and are encouraged to take control of their lives. Related to employment weaknesses clustered in three areas: employment practices and policies, Social Security programs and services, and healthcare.
Conclusions:  Weaknesses predominated the findings. Paying close attention to these particular concerns of people with MS should lead to better policies and interventions aimed at improving employment outcomes for this group.

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