Exploring the working life of people with multiple sclerosis during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden.

Murley C, Dervish J, Machado A, Svärd V, Wennman-Larsen A, Hillert J, Friberg E

BMC Public Health 24 (1) 1389 [2024-05-23; online 2024-05-23]

The COVID-19 pandemic led to vast changes in working life and conditions in which we work. These changes may affect people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) differently. We aimed to describe the working situation of PwMS during the COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic's impact on their working lives. All individuals aged 20-50 listed in the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Registry were invited to participate in an online survey in 2021. Closed and open-ended responses linked to individual-level register data were used in this exploratory mixed-methods study. Differences in the proportions reporting specific impacts were assessed with chi-square tests by sex, MS severity, education, and profession. The open-ended answers were analysed through content analysis. Over 8500 PwMS were invited (52% response rate). We included the 3887 respondents who answered questions about the impact of the pandemic on working life. Most (93.7%) reported being in paid work. An impact of the ongoing pandemic to one's daily occupation was reported by 26.2%, with different characteristics observed across the impacts. Four categories of type of answers were identified from the open-ended answers: Direct impact on one's occupation, Disclosing or concealing MS in the workplace, Worry and uncertainty, and Broader impact to life situation. PwMS navigated the pandemic by interrupting as well as continuing their working lives. Many PwMS reported that the pandemic did not affect their work situation. However, the reported impacts differed among the participants and a sense of uncertainty and worry was often underlying their statements. Lessons from the pandemic may support future work participation.

Category: Health

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38783221

DOI 10.1186/s12889-024-18844-9

Crossref 10.1186/s12889-024-18844-9

pmc: PMC11119790
pii: 10.1186/s12889-024-18844-9

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