The degree to which people with multiple sclerosis (MS) are conscientious — a personality trait that reflects responsibility, organization, and goal-oriented skills — in their work habits can help to predict their employment status in three years, according to a survey of 70 MS patients.
A study based on its results also found that accommodations made in the workplace, like flexible hours and written instructions, are likely to help in preserving their jobs.
The study, “Conscientiousness and deterioration in employment status in multiple sclerosis over 3 years” was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.
Compared with the general population, people with MS are at risk of unemployment. Research has shown that older age, lower education, longer disease duration, and physical and cognitive disability are all risk factors for gainful employment among these patients.
Few studies, however, have analyzed how personality traits can also influence this risk.
Researchers at The State University of New York conducted a survey, called Buffalo Vocational Monitoring Survey (BVMS), to evaluate changes in work status over a three-year period in MS patients relative to healthy individuals.
They followed 70 MS patients and 25 healthy people serving as controls. At the study’s start (baseline), all underwent neurological and neuropsychological tests to assess their cognition and physical abilities.
Conscientiousness — the ability for deliberation, achievement, and order — was also assessed. In recent studies, this trait was shown to predict deterioration in cognition and brain volume in MS patients. Its lack, or a low level of conscientiousness, is also linked to occupational stress in MS.
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