University Of Tasmania

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Changes in multiple sclerosis symptoms are associated with changes in work productivity of people living with multiple sclerosis

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 23:56 authored by Bessing, B, Mohammad Akhtar Hussain, Susan ClaflinSusan Claflin, Chen, J, Christopher BlizzardChristopher Blizzard, Van Dijk, P, Kirk-Brown, A, Bruce TaylorBruce Taylor, Ingrid van der MeiIngrid van der Mei

Background: While employment rates have increased in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS), little is known about the longitudinal trends of work productivity.

Objective: To describe the longitudinal patterns of work productivity and examine the factors associated with annual change of work productivity of PwMS.

Methods: Study participants were employed participants of the Australian MS Longitudinal Study (AMSLS) followed from 2015 to 2019 with at least two repeated measures (n= 2121). We used linear mixed models to examine if the within-individual variations in MS symptoms are associated with changes in work productivity.

Results: The mean annual change in work productivity between 2015 and 2019 was −0.23% (SD = 18.68%). Not the actual severity of symptoms but rather the changes in severity of symptoms that are associated with change in work productivity in the same year. In a multivariable model, every unit increase in mean annual change in ‘pain and sensory symptoms’, ‘feelings of anxiety and depression’, and ‘fatigue and cognitive symptoms’ were independently associated with 2.43%, 1.55% and 1.01% annual reductions in work productivity, respectively.

Conclusion: Individual changes in work productivity are largely driven by the changes in symptom severity rather than the absolute severity. Stabilising/improving MS symptoms might improve work productivity.


Publication title

Multiple Sclerosis Journal

Article number

ePub ahead of print


ePub ahead of print






Menzies Institute for Medical Research



Place of publication

Hodder Headline Plc, 338 Euston Road, London, England, Nw1 3Bh

Rights statement

© The Author(s), 2021.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other health not elsewhere classified