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Research Brief 5 - Perceptions of Quality of Employment Outcomes after Multiple Sclerosis: A Qualitative Study

Research Study Two (RS2)

Successful Employment and Quality Work Life after Severe Disability: Comparison of Predictive Models with Multiple Sclerosis and Spinal Cord Injury


Study Team Leaders:

Dr. James Krause

Purpose:

The purpose of this study is to identify characteristics associated with successful employment throughout the work life cycle among approximately 1,050 participants with physical disability resulting from multiple sclerosis (MS) and compare patterns of predictive factors with those identified in an independent study of spinal cord injury (SCI) (NIDILRR #H133A120122). This is exploration research, as defined by NIDILRR, will assess the preparedness of individuals with physical disabilities to participate in the workforce.

Research Question(s):

  1. What are the primary control and policy variables and the primary employment outcomes of greatest importance, as defined by those with physical disability secondary to MS who have had varying levels of success with employment?
  2. To what extent are differences in successful employment outcomes attributable to unchangeable control factors, particularly race-ethnicity?
  3. What policy variables will be associated with successful employment outcomes?
  4. What interactions may exist between control and policy factors that will explain variations in successful employment outcomes?
  5. What interactions exist between the two participant populations (MS, SCI) in the relationships between control factors and policy factors with successful employment participation and quality indicators of employment?

Study Summary:

This is a sequential qualitative - quantitative mixed methods exploratory study. During the qualitative stage, focus groups will be conducted with individuals who have been employed after their diagnosis of MS. Questions will be designed to elicit information about the personal, environmental, and policy related factors that influence job outcomes. A community advisory panel, comprised of eight individuals with MS, will meet annually and assist the investigators with incorporation of the qualitative results into the final measure, suggest data analysis, and assist in interpretation of the research findings. This stage will ensure identification of important predictors and outcomes, from the perspective of the person with MS.

The quantitative stage will incorporate the qualitative findings and use the labor participation model (LPM) as a basis for structuring and selecting predictive factors with diverse employment outcomes. The study will identify the maximum potential effects of any intervention based on the econometric relationship between a given factor and outcome. For instance, the strength of the relationship between education and earnings establishes the upper limit, or range, to which an educationally-based intervention may be successful.

The Shepherd Center in Atlanta Georgia is facilitating recruitment of MS participants from their specialty clinic. Under the leadership of Dr. Deborah Backus, they are contributing to the ongoing evaluation of the design of the MS employment study and providing input to Dr. Krause at MUSC. They also will contribute to written summaries of the study results.

Expected Outcomes and Benefits:

This study will generate new knowledge to promote participation and quality employment outcomes by quantifying the impact of psychological, socio-environmental, behavioral, and health factors on successful employment outcomes.

For additional information contact:

Dr. James Krause, Richard Aust or Deborah Backus