The insights advantage: succeed at work with MS

Neurol Sci. 2015 May 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Workers with disability: the case of multiple sclerosis.

Ponzio M, Brichetto G, Zaratin P, Battaglia MA.
The impact of the multiple sclerosis (MS) on the individual’s ability to work is important especially because the onset of the disease occurs mainly between 20 and 30 years of age. This study evaluated different factors associated with job maintenance using a questionnaire that defined what factors are considered obstacle or help in work management. A cross-sectional study of people with MS was carried out in Italy. A total of 1016 individuals with MS were enrolled in the study. Our results showed that negative item related to job maintenance as ‘attitudes of other in the workplace’ was associated with a lower likelihood of being employed (OR 0.65, 95 % CI 0.57-0.76), while ‘your attitudes toward work’ (OR 1.37, 95 % CI 1.19-1.59), ‘attitudes of other in the workplace’ (OR 1.41, 95 % CI 1.17-1.69) and ‘personal considerations’ (OR 1.54, 95 % CI 1.23-1.93), positive items related to job maintenance, were associated with a higher likelihood of being employed. In addition, a poor quality of life and severity disease as well same demographic characteristics (i.e. to be resident in South Italy or in the Islands, living in own original family, have lower educational level) inhibited significantly the job maintenance together with a heavy job and a fixed-term contract. In conclusion, a complex set of variables contribute to the barriers faced by PwMS who are employed suggesting that different stakeholders may play an important role in difficult management of the work for people with MS.

As adults we’re defined by our work, more so than by our social status, families, or surprisingly even wealth. Your work has an impact on society, achieves status, fame and even power depending on how far you’re willing to reach or to exceed in expectations. However, staying in employment when you’re also affected by a chronic neurological disorder is very, very hard. 

Here a group of researchers have looked at 1016 MSers in Italy in order to figure out what determines whether they stay in employment or not. I hope the findings of from this research article will provide MSers with a competitive edge in their work.

Of the 1016 MSers, 756 (74%) were in current employment; mean age 40 (+/- 9.3) years; worked an average 18.8 (+/- 10) years, and for 9.4 (+/- 7.2) years with MS. 14.2 % worked part-time, 10.3% left work and 3.9% were fired due to MS. In 48%, the change of job/tasks led to a salary reduction of around 40%.

So what were the single individual variables that related to negative job maintenance (this is out of 59 variables!):
  • Own attitudes toward work – feeling anxious, stressed, feeling overwhelmed, lack of motivation
  • Environmental temperature
  • Symptoms – fatigue and weakness

And, the variables related to positive job maintenance:

  • Own attitudes toward work – optimistic, being motivated and interested in the work, being certain about your capabilities
  • Social interaction
  • Personal emotional resources
  • Family’s support and help with household tasks
  • Attitudes to others in the work place – understanding employer and co-workers
  • Workplace environment – seated work, adequate environmental temperature, possibility to set your own pace or intermittent breaks/rest, flexible work schedule, stable workgroup, accessible transportation/parking and work area
  • Stable disease

About the author

Neuro Doc Gnanapavan


  • Dare I say it sounds like common sense, but thanks for posting and for doing the research as this all helps the case for supporting people with MS to stay in work.



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