The MS@Work study: A 3-year prospective observational study on factors involved with work participation in patients with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis

K. van der Hiele, D.A. van Gorp, M.A. Heerings, I. van Lieshout, P.J. Jongen, M.F. Reneman, J.J.L. van der Klink, F. Vosman, H.A. Middelkoop, L.H. Visser

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Abstract

Background
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common cause of neurological disability in young and middle-aged adults. At this stage in life most people are in the midst of their working career. The majority of MS patients are unable to retain employment within 10 years from disease onset. Leading up to unemployment, many may experience a reduction in hours or work responsibilities and increased time missed from work. The MS@Work study examines various factors that may influence work participation in relapsing-remitting MS patients, including disease-related factors, the working environment and personal factors.
Methods/design
The MS@Work study is a multicenter, 3-year prospective observational study on work participation in patients with relapsing-remitting MS. We aim to include 350 patients through 15–18 MS outpatient clinics in the Netherlands. Eligible participants are 18 years and older, and either currently employed or within three years since their last employment. At baseline and after 1, 2 and 3 years, the participants are asked to complete online questionnaires (including questions on work participation, work problems and accommodations, cognitive and physical ability, anxiety, depression, psychosocial stress, quality of life, fatigue, empathy, personality traits and coping strategies) and undergo cognitive and neurological examinations. After six months, patients are requested to only complete online questionnaires. Patient perspectives on maintaining and improving work participation and reasons to stop working are gathered through semi-structured interviews in a sub-group of patients.
Discussion
Prospective studies with long-term follow-up on work participation in MS are rare, or take into account a limited number of factors. The MS@Work study provides a 3-year follow-up on various factors that may influence work participation in patients with relapsing-remitting MS. We aim to identify factors that relate to job loss and to provide information about preventative measures for physicians, psychologists and other professionals working in the field of occupational health.
Keywords: Multiple Sclerosis, Work participation, Absenteeism, Cognitive abilities, Psychological factors, Fatigue, Physical disability
Original languageEnglish
Article number134
JournalBMC Neurology
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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    van der Hiele, K., van Gorp, D. A., Heerings, M. A., van Lieshout, I., Jongen, P. J., Reneman, M. F., van der Klink, J. J. L., Vosman, F., Middelkoop, H. A., & Visser, L. H. (2015). The MS@Work study: A 3-year prospective observational study on factors involved with work participation in patients with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis. BMC Neurology, 15, [134]. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-015-0375-4