Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Kordovski, V. M., Frndak, S. E., Fisher, C. S., Rodgers, J., Weinstock-Guttman, B., & Benedict, R. H. (2015). Identifying employed multiple sclerosis patients at-risk for job loss: When do negative work events pose a threat?. Multiple sclerosis and related disorders. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, 4 (5), 409-413.
Title:  Identifying employed multiple sclerosis patients at-risk for job loss: When do negative work events pose a threat?. Multiple sclerosis and related disorders
Authors:  Kordovski, V. M., Frndak, S. E., Fisher, C. S., Rodgers, J., Weinstock-Guttman, B., & Benedict, R. H.
Year:  2015
Journal/Publication:  Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Publisher:  Elsevier B.V.
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported

Structured abstract:

Background:  Research about difficulties at work for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is limited. Two significant predictors of unemployment for individuals with MS are physical disability and cognitive impairment. Understanding the frequency of difficulties employees with MS experience on the job may help clarify whether negative work events and workplace accommodations are unique to MS or are ordinary struggles of employment in the general population.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to compare the frequency of negative work events for employees with MS and healthy controls to determine if there is a threshold when the frequency of work problems is clinically meaningful. The researchers hypothesized that group differences would emerge on both clinical metrics and vocational status, and that previously observed association between work problems and clinical predictors would be replicated. Based on outcomes the researchers planned to develop normative expectations on these employment status indicators to help guide clinical practices.
Setting:  The study took place at a MS Center.
Study sample:  Participants with MS were recruited from a MS Center located in an urban setting. Healthy control participants were recruited using advertisements. The sample included 138 MS patients, 107 females and 31 males, and 61 healthy controls, 43 females and 18 males. All participants were between the ages of 18 and 60 years. All reported working more than 30 hours a week for their primary employer.
Intervention:  There was no intervention.
Control or comparison condition:  The controls were healthy patients.
Data collection and analysis:  Participants completed an brief online survey that assessed demographics and disease characteristics, self reported symptoms using a MS neuropsychological screening questionnaire, employment data, and work related problems and accommodations. All participants completed a clinical assessment. Areas evaluated included the participant's motor function, cognitive processing speed, verbal and visuospatial memory, total learning and delayed recall and symptoms of depression. All statistical analyses were performed using the SPSS 22.0. ANOVA, Chi square tests, and the Mann-Whitney U test were also used in the analyses. The analyses were conducted comparing the MS patients and the controls, as well as, individuals with and without work problems, with a cut off of greater than 1. Effect sizes were reported using Cohen's d.
Findings:  MS patients did not differ from controls on age, education, or job zone distribution. There was a group difference on years working for an employer, favoring the MS participants. The majority or 82% reported disclosing their disability status to their employer. There was no difference in median income. MS participants performed worse than controls on the motor and cognitive tests. Patients with MS were more likely to report negative work events and accommodations than controls (30% vs 16%). The most commonly reported accommodations by MS patients were: flexible work hours, the use of air conditioner or fan at work stations, access to refrigerator for cooling products, ability to work from home, additional rest breaks, preferential parking, and reduced physical tasks. Fifteen patients in the MS group were considered work challenged. These patients earned less money and reported a higher degree of physical disability than stable MS patients. These patients also reported more symptoms of depression and more cognitive problems. There were no differences in the presence or number of accommodations between the groups. However, analysis revealed that work challenged MS patients reported cognitive accommodations more often than the stable MS group.
Conclusions:  MS patients reported more negative work events and accommodations than employed healthy workers. Among MS patients those with more cognitive and motor impairment are at more risk for job loss. Those patients may benefit from cognitive training and other accommodations. The study provides additional support for the use of online vocational monitoring tool for employees with MS.

Disabilities served:  Multiple sclerosis
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Outcomes:  Other