Can J Neurol Sci 2003 May;30(2):137-42
Busche KD, Fisk JD, Murray TJ, Metz LM.
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.
Unemployment is common in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and is associated with loss of income and impaired health related quality of life.
This study determined variables associated with unemployment and risk factors for the development of unemployment in people with MS.
Ninety-six patients who were under age 65 and participated in two previous studies to measure economic costs and health related quality of life in MS were included.
The baseline employment rate and variables associated with unemployment at baseline were determined.
The ability of these variables to predict unemployment over the next two and a half years was then evaluated.
At baseline 50.1% (50/96) of participants were employed.
Two and a half years later only 40.6% (39/96) remained employed.
This represents loss of employment for 22.0% (11/50) of those originally employed.
Factors associated with unemployment at baseline included greater disability, progressive disease course, longer disease duration, and older age.
Risk factors for loss of employment over the next 2.5 years included greater disability and older age.
This study confirms the low employment rate among people with MS and confirms the association of several previously-reported factors with greater risk of unemployment.
It is also the first study to confirm that some of these factors also increase the risk of future unemployment.
People with MS who are over age 39 or have moderate disability and are still employed can now be identified as at risk for becoming unemployed over the next 2.5 years.
They should be considered for interventions to maintain employment or to lessen the impact of unemployment.