BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disorder that causes significantly reduced ability to work, and the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) is one of the main predictors for reduced work ability.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate how work requirements, flexible work conditions and disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) influence the work ability in relation to different EDSS grades in two MS populations.
METHODS: Work ability was studied in two MS populations: one in the southern and one in the northern part of Sweden, both demographically similar. In the latter population, more active work-promoting interventions have been practised and second-generation DMDs have been widely used from the onset of disease for several years.
RESULTS: The proportion of MS patients who participated in the workforce or studied was significantly higher in the northern compared with the southern population (p < 0.001). The employees in the northern population had significantly lower requirements, greater adapted work conditions and were able to work more hours per week. Higher EDSS was associated with lower reduction in number of worked hours per week in the northern population (p = 0.042).
CONCLUSION: Our data indicated that treatment strategy and adjusted work conditions have impact on work ability in MS.