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MS Symptoms That Factor Into Employment Status

January 12, 2016

The International Journal of MS Care published a new study last month, which highlights the reasons that patients with multiple sclerosis struggle to stay employed. The main reasons proved to be difficulties with cognitive function and fatigue.

Obviously unemployment has become quite an issue among MS patients with the unemployment rate hovering between 22%-80%. Previous studies have determined that the disease factors into a patients ability to work, and even showed that unemployed patients often struggle to regain full-time employment for fear of losing disability benefits, a predicament known as the “disability trap”.

This study was different, as it determined the factors that best determine a patients chances of getting and staying employed.

Researchers, decided to enroll 53 MS patients (eight men and 45 women) in a study of the cognitive, emotional, and social factors related to the disease and its impact on their lives. 33 participants were employed and 20 unemployed. A scoring system was designed to represent cognition, fatigue, depression, and motor function. These scores, together with the EDSS (Expanded Disability Status Scale) score, were further analyzed as predictors of employment status.

Results showed that a model that included composite scores of motor function, cognition, depression and fatigue was able to significantly distinguish between patients who were unemployed and those who were employed. However, only the cognitive, motor and fatigue composite scores were found to be individually connected to unemployment.