Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Li, J., Roessler, R. T., Rumrill, P. D.,Leslie, M., Wang, F. (2016). Predictors of return to work intention among unemployed adults with multiple sclerosis: A reasoned action approach. Journal of Rehabilitation, 82 (2), 14-24.
Title:  Predictors of return to work intention among unemployed adults with multiple sclerosis: A reasoned action approach
Authors:  Li, J., Roessler, R. T., Rumrill, P. D.,Leslie, M., Wang, F.
Year:  2016
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Rehabilitation
Publisher:  National Rehabilitation Association
Full text:    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Survey research

Structured abstract:

Background:  Multiple Sclerosis, due to its debilitating nature, tends to cause individuals to drop out of the labor force, often for good. However, while 75% of people with MS drop out of the work force, 80% of people interviewed also believe themselves fit to work, and another 75% say they would like to return to their workplace. In order to find out what causes the discrepancy between the number of people who want to work and those who are actively working, research must be conducted.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to determine what factors, if any, affect the decision to return to work for people affected with multiple sclerosis, including demographics, peoples' attitudes towards work, societal norms, and how much control they believe they have over their employment status.
Setting:  The surveyed sample of people represented nine different chapters of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the United States, spanning 21 states of varied geography and demographics.
Study sample:  The sample consisted entirely of unemployed adults with Multiple Sclerosis, specifically those who were retired or were at or below the age of 65. The sample was 79% male and 21% female. In terms of ethnic groups, the sample was 73% White, 15% African American, 9% Hispanic/Latino, and 3% were Asian, Native American, Alaskan Natives, and Pacific Islanders. 96% of those surveyed had graduated high school. and 31% graduated college.
Data collection and analysis:  The data was collected from a 98-question survey given to all participants. Once the surveys were complete, the variance in the data was measured by a hierarchical multiple regression analysis split into the 4 different independent variables.
Findings:  It was found that race/ethnicity, receipt of disability benefits, current financial status, the quality of their social life, the support they received after diagnosis, and the severity of their MS symptoms all contributed significantly to a person's intent to work, while their perceptions of whether or not their workplace was conducive to returning to work did not.
Conclusions:  Poverty is a large factor in the lives of those with MS, even more so for African Americans who are having financial problems. This study shows that poverty is a major driving factor behind those who want to return to work after being diagnosed with MS, though a person's social life may also be leveraged in an attempt to open them up to vocational rehabilitation and eventually returning to work. Counselors can help unemployed individuals find a workplace in which their comfortable, and inform them of their rights under the Civil Rights Act in an effort to combat workplace racism. They can also assist with financial situations, and should ensure that any rehabilitation plan includes support for housing, clothing, food, and other necessities for the individual.

Disabilities served:  Multiple sclerosis