Communication in the Workplace for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis.

TitleCommunication in the Workplace for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsYorkston KM, Johnson KL, Klasner ER, Kraft GH
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine

Background: A number of factors contribute to the need for providing vocational counseling for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) who wish to work. Previous research has shown that 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 experiences with communicating in the workplace and the impact of MS on these experiences. A number of techniques were used to promote open discussion, including viewing the participant as the “expert,” beginning with a “grand tour” question, and asking for “stories” about experiences as a way of defining terms. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using phenomenological methods. Results: Workplace issues related to communication varied greatly among the participants in this study; however methods for dealing with these issues clustered around common themes. The interviews revealed personal strategies for coping with workplace communication issues, such as careful management of physical and mental resources and learning new ways to manage multiple tasks. Conclusion: Interventionists need to consider cognitive and communication issues in the workplace when planning assessment and treatment for employed individuals with MS.

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