Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) poses a major threat to sustainable employability. Identifying conditions and factors that promote work participation is of great importance. Our objective was to explore the contribution of personality traits in explaining occupational functioning in MS.
Methods: 241 participants with relapsing-remitting MS (78% female, median age: 42.0 years, median EDSS: 2.0) and 60 healthy controls (70% female, median age: 45.0 years) underwent neuropsychological and neurological examinations and completed questionnaires. Multivariate logistic and linear regression analyses were conducted to examine relations between personality traits and self-reported occupational functioning, while accounting for known correlates.
Results: Personality traits were not associated with self-reported occupational functioning when correcting for known correlates. A higher impact of fatigue (B = -0.05, p = .005 and B = -0.04, p = .009) and depression (B = -0.22, p = .008 and B = -0.21, p = .01) were associated with no paid job (R2 = 0.13) and considering to reduce work hours (R2 = 0.12). A higher impact of fatigue (B = -0.05, p = .008, β = 0.46, p = .001 and β = -0.36, p = .001) was associated with absenteeism from work (R2 = 0.15), more presenteeism (R2 = 0.35) and lower work ability (R2 = 0.25). A higher impact of fatigue (β = 0.46, p = .001) and anxiety (β = 0.25, p = .001) were associated with more work difficulties (R2 = 0.54).
Conclusion: Personality traits did not explain additional variance in self-reported occupational functioning in persons with relapsing-remitting MS with mild disability. The impact of fatigue was the main and most consistent correlate of occupational functioning, often combined with depression or anxiety. Total explained variance of the models was limited, emphasizing the need to additionally examine other (contextual) factors when considering occupational challenges in MS.
Keywords: Fatigue; Mood; Multiple sclerosis; Occupational functioning; Personality.
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