Employment and absenteeism in working-age persons with multiple sclerosis

Amber Salter, Nina Thomas, Tuula Tyry, Gary Cutter, Ruth Ann Marrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Aims: To better understand the impact of the clinical course of multiple sclerosis (MS) and disability on employment, absenteeism, and related factors. Materials and methods: This study included respondents to the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis Registry spring 2015 update survey who were US or Canadian residents, aged 18–65 years and reported having relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS), or primary progressive MS (PPMS). The RRMS and SPMS participants were combined to form the relapsing-onset MS (RMS) group and compared with the PPMS group regarding employment status, absenteeism, and disability. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between employment-related outcomes and factors that may affect these relationships. Results: Of the 8004 survey respondents, 5887 (73.6%) were 18–65 years of age. The PPMS group (n = 344) had a higher proportion of males and older mean age at the time of the survey and at time of diagnosis than the RMS group (n = 4829). Female sex, age, age at diagnosis, cognitive and hand function impairment, fatigue, higher disability levels, ≥3 comorbidities, and a diagnosis of PPMS were associated with not working. After adjustment for disability, the employed PPMS sub-group reported similar levels of absenteeism to the employed RMS sub-group. Limitations: Limitations of the study include self-report of information and the possibility that participants may not fully represent the working-age MS population. Conclusions: In MS, employment status and absenteeism are negatively affected by disability, cognitive impairment, and fatigue. These findings underscore the need for therapies that prevent disability progression and other symptoms that negatively affect productivity in persons with MS to enable them to persist in the workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-502
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Economics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 4 2017


  • Relapsing multiple sclerosis
  • absenteeism
  • burden of disease
  • employment
  • primary progressive multiple sclerosis
  • productivity


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