Background: Supporting people with multiple sclerosis (MS) at work can be challenging due to the unpredictable nature and myriad of disease-related symptoms, and issues related to the work environment.
Objective: To explore, amongst people with MS in employment, their experiences of and need for vocational rehabilitation (VR), and perceived barriers and facilitators to implementing VR.
Methods: We conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with people with MS, employers, and healthcare professionals. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using the framework method.
Results: We identified nine themes reflecting the main MS symptoms (e.g. cognition, fatigue), and environmental factors such as support provided at work (e.g. change of working hours) and workplace characteristics. Providing support tailored to the individual’s needs and early intervention were seen as important attributes for the intervention. The barriers identified referred to lack of resources and confidentiality issues; however, having flexibility in the content and delivery of the intervention were seen as facilitators.
Conclusion: The impact of environmental factors (e.g. attitudes towards disability) on employment difficulties is equal to or greater than disease-related factors. Environmental changes in the attitudes of co-workers and workplace flexibility can enable people with MS to remain in work for longer.
De dios perez, B., Radford, K., & das Nair, R. (2022). Experiences of people with multiple sclerosis at work: Towards the understanding of the needs for a job retention vocational rehabilitation intervention. WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation, 72(1), 303-313. https://doi.org/10.3233/wor-210012