Personal, Disease, and Social/Environmental Factors Predicting Satisfaction with the Employment Situation Among People with Multiple Sclerosis

Thursday, May 31, 2018
Exhibit Hall A (Nashville Music City Center)
Richard T Roessler, Ph.D. , Rehabilitation Consultant, Fayetteville, AR
Phillip D Rumrill, Ph.D , Center for Disability Studies, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Jian Li, Ph.D. , Evaluation and Measurement, Kent State University, Kent, OH
James Krause, Ph.D. , Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Medical University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Malachy Bishop, Ph.D , EDSRC, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Background: Given the high unemployment rates of adults with multiple sclerosis (MS), research regarding factors influencing general expectations as to whether workplace conditions promote or restrict employment is extremely important. Expectations are considered a function of social cognition, i.e., the processing of information to form cognitive schema, which influences how individuals interpret social cues and subsequently behave. The more pessimistic individuals are about achieving a desired outcome, in this case, acquisition and retention of employment, the less likely they are to initiate and persevere in goal seeking.     

Objectives: The objective of this study was to identify characteristics of persons with MS that predict their outlook regarding the probability that adults with MS will succeed in their efforts to acquire and retain employment. Satisfaction with the general employment situation was measured in terms of 17 employment concerns clustering in three factors: fair treatment, legal rights, and environmental/personal resources.

Methods: Members of 9 NMSS chapters representing 21 states and Washington, D.C. participated in the study (N=1,149). Sample descriptors were as follows: 80% female, 74% Caucasian, average age of 50, and 53% employed. Based on a three-block hierarchical regression analysis, researchers identified personal, disease, and social/environmental factors influencing general satisfaction with employment conditions.

Results: Participants with a higher quality of life who were younger, less educated, employed full-time, and experiencing no or lower levels of cognitive impairments reported more positive general expectations regarding the ways in which adults with MS are treated in the employment environment. Representing personal, disease, and social/environmental variables, these factors accounted for 10% of the variance of generalized employment expectations. 

Conclusions: Although all adults with MS benefit from supportive employment conditions, a valuable group of experienced and well-educated adults with MS requires even more intensive interventions such as cognitive rehabilitation, job seeking and placement services including reasonable accommodation, lifestyle counseling, and nondiscriminatory hiring practices.