Employment of People with MS: A Systematic Approach and Comprehensive Questionnaire

Thursday, May 29, 2014
Trinity Exhibit Hall
Rina LM Verdoodt, SW , rehabilitation, National Multiple Sclerosis Center, Melsbroek, Belgium
Evi Vijverman, SW , rehabilitation, National Multiple Sclerosis Center, Melsbroek, Belgium


Employment is an essential issue of participation in our society. This is even more so for people with a chronic illness such as multiple sclerosis and it is applicable on a micro-, meso- and macro level. Employment on the micro level, thus on level of the patient and his immediate environment, is related to self-realization, autonomy, structuring of time, social contacts and self-esteem. On the higher meso level, different organizations related to employment of persons with MS (PwMS), such as MS societies, MS centers, labor unions, … are developing an increasing awareness of the importance of employment and its relevance for patients with MS. Ensuring the accompaniment and/or the pursue of employment can be perceived as a measure of  quality of care.  Employment is an important contemporary issue on the level of the society: there is a growing conviction in Europe that everybody will have to work more and longer to maintain the current level of prosperity. Therefore a number of employment promoting policies have already been implemented to enhance the employment degree of vulnerable individuals with chronic illnesses.


Our goal was to develop a systematical questionnaire to determine the spectrum of employment related problems encountered by patients with multiple sclerosis.


An initial survey was issued to 32 patients with MS involved in a care program in the National Multiple Sclerosis Center in Melsbroek (B). All patients were employed or looking for employment at that time. This survey inquires on the possibilities and obstacles that PwMS experience in the reality of their  daily work or search for work.A systematic review of literature was conducted, as were relevant organizations contacted for their insights on this topic. PwMS were questioned by a collaborator of the social work department using our standardized questionnaire.


Due to the growing importance of employment in the multidisciplinary guidance of persons with MS there is a need for a compact comprehensive questionnaire that permits an efficient detection of all relevant employment related issues. In particular we encountered that even with strong divergence in employment related situation of each patient this systematic assessment-tool is a valuable guideline to reveal the individual needs and requirements.


The ultimate goal is to offer a flexible tailor-made vocational guidance, involving professionals and organizations on all levels. Easy accessibility to clear and adequate information about MS and about the possibilities for PwMS in the labor market is crucial, both for the PwMS and for their environment. We elaborate on several recommendations to improve the communication on the level of the person with MS as on the level of organizations involved in MS as on the global level of the society.