Factors associated with employment status in individuals with multiple sclerosis: Cognition, fatigue, and motor function

Margaret Cadden, Peter Arnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Background: Unemployment is common in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) and is associated with substantial socioeconomic burden. Several MS-related factors have been found to be associated with employment status, including fatigue, depression, cognitive problems, and motor difficulties. However, few studies have examined these factors collectively in predicting employment. The present study aimed to explore these variables together in predicting employment status in MS. Methods: Fifty-three individuals with MS participating in a research study of cognitive, emotional, and social factors related to MS were examined. Composite scores were created using factor analysis that represented cognition, fatigue, depression, and motor function. These composite scores, along with the Expanded Disability Status Scale score, were explored as predictors of employment status (working, not working) via logistic regression. Models of mediation were also investigated. Results: A model including composite scores of motor function, cognition, depression, and fatigue significantly distinguished those who are unemployed versus employed. However, only the cognitive, motor, and fatigue composite scores were found to be significantly associated with unemployment individually. Results of a mediation analysis using 1000 bootstrap samples indicated that the cognitive and fatigue composite scores significantly mediated the effect of disability on work status. Conclusions: Cognitive function and fatigue mediate the effect of MS disability on employment status. Interventions targeting cognitive difficulties and fatigue in MS may be effective in helping individuals maintain employment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-291
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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