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

Barnabas Bessing, Mohammad A. Hussain, Suzi B. Claflin, Jing Chen, Leigh Blizzard, Pieter van Dijk, Andrea Kirk-Brown, Bruce V. Taylor, I. van der Mei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • absenteeism
  • intra-individual variations
  • longitudinal
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • pain
  • presenteeism
  • work productivity

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