Content » Vol 48, Issue 9

Original report

Multiple sclerosis and employment: Associations of psychological factors and work instability

Charlotte Rose Wicks, Karl Ward, Amanda Stroud, Alan Tennant, Helen L. Ford
Leeds Centre for Neurosciences, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, LS1 3EX Leeds, United Kingdom. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2142


Background: People with multiple sclerosis often stop working earlier than expected. Psychological factors may have an impact on job retention. Investigation may inform interventions to help people stay in work.
Objective: To investigate the associations between psychological factors and work instability in people with multiple sclerosis.
Methods: A multi-method, 2-phased study. Focus groups were held to identify key themes. Questionnaire packs using validated scales of the key themes were completed at baseline and at 8-month follow-up.
Results: Four key psychological themes emerged. Out of 208 study subjects 57. 2% reported medium/high risk of job loss, with marginal changes at 8 months. Some psychological variables fluctuated significantly, e. g. depression fell from 24. 6% to 14. 5%. Work instability and anxiety and depression were strongly correlated (χ2 p < 0. 001). Those with probable depression at baseline had 7. 1 times increased odds of medium/high work instability, and baseline depression levels also predicted later work instability (Hosmer–Lemeshow test 0. 899; Nagelkerke R Square 0. 579).
Conclusion: Psychological factors fluctuated over the 8-month follow-up period. Some psychological variables, including anxiety and depression, were significantly associated with, and predictive of, work instability. Longitudinal analysis should further identify how these psychological attributes impact on work instability and potential job loss in the longer term.

Lay Abstract


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