Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

MS@Work study

What are the long-term effects of disease-related factors, psychological factors and work situation on employment and work absenteeism in relapsing-remitting MS patients?

Karin van der Hiele
Nationaal MS fonds
Teva Pharma Nederland Teva Pharma Nederland
ZonMw TopZorg ZonMw TopZorg

National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
St. Elisabeth Hospital Tilburg
University of Humanistic studies
MS4 Research Institute
Van Lieshout Arbo Advies

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory, demyelinating disease affecting the Central Nervous System. MS is the most common cause of neurological disability in young and middle-aged adults (Gommer & Poos, 2010; Krokavcova et al., 2010). At this stage in life most people are at the beginning or in the midst of their working career. Work participation is very important for a person’s sense of self-respect, leading to financial security, social contacts and providing a feeling of usefulness and satisfaction. Job loss has been associated with worse self-reported health and increased adverse health behaviours after job loss (Clougherty, Souza, & Cullen, 2010). Despite a recent work history, 70 to 80% of people with MS are unable to retain employment following diagnosis (Roessler & Rumrill, 2003). From a societal perspective, the loss of productivity in MS leads to significant socio-economic costs. The high prevalence of unemployment among MS patients and the large personal and societal costs involved underline the need to study factors associated with unemployment and work absence in MS. The causes of unemployment in MS involve a complex interaction between disease-related factors, the working environment, job demands and personal factors (Sweetland, Howse, & Playford, 2012).

Most evidence for factors associated with loss of employment or work absenteeism comes from cross-sectional studies. Prospective studies are rare, or take into account a limited number of factors. The current study aims to examine predictors of (changes in) employment status and work absenteeism in RRMS patients over a period of three years. By taking into account a wide variety of physical, cognitive and psychological factors this study may reveal typical patterns leading to absenteeism, decreased employment status and finally unemployment. Identifying these patterns provides useful information about preventative factors for physicians, psychologists and vocational rehabilitation therapists.

Connection with other research