Uni of Adelaide leads back-to-work project for MS

Thursday, 28 May 2015

The University of Adelaide is leading a world-first study into how to help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) adapt, adjust and return to work.

Dr Diana Dorstyn, clinical psychologist and University of Adelaide researcher, says many people with MS who could work and want to work are not doing so because of misconceptions surrounding the illness and difficulties accessing available employment services.

“MS affects over 23,000 Australians and symptoms vary considerably from person-to-person. Symptoms may occur in isolated attacks (relapsing forms) or worsen over time (progressive forms); however some individuals may have partial or complete recovery (remissions) between attacks,” says Dr Dorstyn.

“Approximately 90% of people with MS have a work history or were working in paid employment at the time of their diagnosis; however as few as 24% return to work.

“The employment rate of people with MS is lower than other chronic illness groups, despite the fact that many people feel they are able to work and want to work. This contributes to significant personal costs, due to loss of wages and productivity, as well as indirect costs for the Australian economy (the annual cost of MS management is over $1 billion).

“People with MS say they have issues trying to access or engage with employment services and that they are afraid to talk to employers, or potential employers, about their condition,” she says.

Dr Dorstyn and Dr Rachel Roberts from the School of Psychology along with a team of researchers from La Trobe University, Monash University, University of Sydney, University of Western Sydney and SA Health are running a trial to evaluate an online job information package specifically for people with MS.

“The self-guided course which we (the research team) have developed is free and includes lessons on how to find the right job and how to establish effective supports, including the importance of on-the-job assistance and peer mentoring,” says Dr Dorstyn.

“The aim of this online resource is to familiarise people with MS with the types of problems they may encounter at work and possible sources of help to turn to when the need arises,” she says.

The researchers are currently looking for adults with a diagnosis of MS to trial the job information package and provide feedback on its effectiveness. For more information, and to take part in the free trial, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/work_and_MS_pilot1.

This project is being funded by MS Research Australia with lead services providers MS Society of South Australia and the Northern Territory and MS Society of Western Australia providing assistance with participant recruitment.


Contact Details

Dr Diana Dorstyn
Email: diana.dorstyn@adelaide.edu.au
Website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/diana.dorstyn
School of Psychology
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0649
Mobile: +61 (0)407 714 698

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