MS study to keep people in the workforce


Date: 26/10/2009

A pilot study which found workers with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are 'pushed out' of employment before the MS impacts on their work will be expanded to investigate the reasons why they leave and find ways to keep them in the workforce longer.

Professor Margaret H Vickers, from the UWS School of Management says the pilot study, which explored the life and work of people with MS, revealed some left the workforce for reasons other than their disease.

"The study found significant employment problems for workers with MS that were not related to their disease or level of disability," says Professor Vickers.

"People in the pilot study reported being ostracised, bullied, and harassed and 'pushed out' of employment following their diagnosis rather than as a result of any direct impact of the disease on their capacity to work."

More than 16,000 Australians have been diagnosed with MS - many of prime working age.

In the current project, Professor Vickers will conduct confidential, in-depth interviews with people who have MS and have worked at all since their diagnosis.

"The expanded study will explore these negative experiences in greater detail as well as identify positive workplace experiences and seek to understand why they are positive," she says.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics report a steady rise in disability rates in Australia from 15 percent in 1981 to almost 20 percent in 2003, which combined with an ageing population, may reduce the future workforce and compromise economic activity.

"Just 53 percent of Australians of working age with a disability are employed, compared to 86 percent for able bodied individuals," says Professor Vickers.

"Any research which can support people with disabilities remaining in the work force for longer is a national priority with positive results for both individuals and the community."

To participate in the study contact: m.vickers@uws.edu.au or call 02 9685 9661.

Ends

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