THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Physical disability, depressive symptoms, and reduced information processing affect work-related disability and vocational status among patients with multiple sclerosis, according to a study published in the November issue of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Christopher A. Povolo, from the London Health Science Center in Canada, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed the charts of 158 patients with multiple sclerosis seen at an academic tertiary care hospital to understand factors associated with work disability.

The researchers found that cognitive function (measured with the Symbol Digit Modalities Test), physical disability status (measured with the Expanded Disability Status Scale), and mood and anxiety symptoms (measured with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) significantly predicted vocational status (β = 0.16, −0.33, and −0.23, respectively). This model explained 37 percent of the variance in employment, while controlling for age, sex, disease course, education, and disease duration.

“In conclusion, this study demonstrates that neurological disability, reduced information processing speed, and depressive symptoms are independent predictors of vocational status in persons with multiple sclerosis,” the authors write. “These clinically relevant predictors for unemployment should be used to inform clinical care in persons with multiple sclerosis so that early intervention strategies can be implemented to reduce job loss and prolong employment.”

One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

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