Self‐employment, sickness absence, and disability pension in multiple sclerosis

Objectives

Early withdrawal from work is common among people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). However, little is known about how this is influenced by the type of employment. The aims were to explore the distributions of self-employed and other types of employment (employed or no earnings from work) before and after MS diagnosis and its associations with sickness absence (SA) and disability pension (DP) among PwMS and matched references without MS.

Materials & Method

A 6-year longitudinal cohort study of 2779 individuals diagnosed with MS in 2008–2012 when aged 20–59 and of 13,863 matched individuals without MS from Sweden’s population was conducted. Hazard ratios (HR) of >180 SA and/or DP days/year were compared by employment status among PwMS and references using Cox proportional hazard models with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results

Most had no SA or DP. Nevertheless, PwMS had higher SA and DP levels compared with references. PwMS had a higher likelihood to reach >180 days of SA (HR = 4.89, 95% CI = 4.43–5.40) or days of DP (HR = 6.31, 95% CI = 5.46–7.30), irrespective of the employment status. Self-employed references had less likelihood for >180 SA days than employed references. However, self-employed and employed PwMS had a similar likelihood for >180 SA days. Transitions of employees to self-employment were infrequent among PwMS (1.7%) and references (2.6%).

Conclusions

PwMS transit to SA and DP to a higher extent than references. In contrast to individuals without MS, self-employed PwMS had similar SA levels to employed PwMS. Switching to self-employment was not a predominant choice for people recently diagnosed with MS.

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