Coping in the Workplace: Communication Issues for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis.

TitleCoping in the Workplace: Communication Issues for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsJohnson KL, Yorkston KM, Klasner ER, Kraft GH
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine

Background: Although multiple sclerosis (MS) is typically diagnosed in young adults during the peak years of career development, unemployment is high. A number of factors contribute to the need for providing vocational counseling for individuals with MS who wish to work. Previous research has shown the presence of cognitive problems may disrupt communication and serve as a barrier to employment. Methods: A qualitative method (phenomenology) was used to obtain individual perspectives on issues related to communication in the workplace for men and women with MS. Participants, including 12 women and 3 men, were asked to describe their everyday experience with communicating in the workplace and the impact of MS on these experiences. Employment circumstances and workplace issues varied greatly among the participants in this study. Results: The following themes emerged: (1) diversity of activities required for most jobs including demands for new learning, (2) red flag terms, such as those relating to fatigue and cognitive difficulties, (3) economy of work so that individuals carefully manage physical and mental resources to continue working, and manage physical and (4) strategies for coping. Appropriate treatment and intervention delivered at critical periods for cognitive and communication problems can be beneficial and assist individuals with MS to remain in the workplace for longer periods.

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