Unemployment in multiple sclerosis (MS): utility of the MS Functional Composite and cognitive testing

Mult Scler. 2014 Jan;20(1):112-5. doi: 10.1177/1352458513488235. Epub 2013 May 1.


Unemployment is a significant concern among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Determinations regarding ability to work are highly dependent on measurement tools used by neurologists and allied professionals. However, little is known of the usefulness of these tools when determining issues pertaining to employment status. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the utility of the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC) and a brief cognitive test battery when examining employment status in MS. Seventy-seven individuals with MS completed the MSFC and a brief cognitive test battery. On the MSFC, unemployed individuals demonstrated worse upper extremity functioning. There was no difference on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task (PASAT), the sole cognitive measure of the MSFC. On cognitive testing, unemployed individuals performed worse on measures of memory, information processing speed, and executive functioning. Through logistic regression analysis, the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) was found to be the sole predictor of employment status among the significant disease, MSFC and cognitive variables. Consistent with previous findings, logistic regression found the SDMT to be a significant predictor of employment status. Given the lack of significant group differences on the PASAT, continued consideration of replacing the PASAT with the SDMT in the MSFC appears warranted.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; disability; employment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Unemployment*