ORIGINAL RESEARCH| Volume 102, ISSUE 8, P1556-1561, August 2021

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Barriers and Facilitators to Employment: A Comparison of Participants With Multiple Sclerosis and Spinal Cord Injury

Published:March 05, 2021DOI:



      To compare self-reported barriers and facilitators to employment among employed and unemployed participants with multiple sclerosis (MS) and spinal cord injury (SCI).


      Cross-sectional study using self-report assessment obtained by mail or online.


      Medical university in the southeastern United States.


      Participants (N=2624) identified from either a specialty hospital or a state-based surveillance system in the southeastern United States, including 1234 with MS and 1390 with SCI. All participants were aged <65 years at the time of assessment.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Self-reported barriers and facilitators to employment.


      Overall, the MS participants reported more barriers, particularly stress, cognition, and fatigue, whereas those with SCI were more likely to report not having the proper education and training, resources, transportation, and attendant care. Follow-up analyses broken down by employment status indicated that several barriers and facilitators were significantly related to diagnosis for either employed or unemployed participants, but not both. Among those employed, participants with SCI were more likely to report they could not do the same types of jobs as they could pre-SCI and those with MS were more likely to state that they did not know much about jobs for people with disabilities (no differences were noted for these variables among unemployed participants). Unemployed individuals with SCI were more likely to report that the jobs for which they were trained were not accessible.


      The primary barriers for individuals with MS revolve around the condition itself, whereas the barriers for SCI appear to be more related to modifiable factors. Vocational rehabilitation specialists need to identify diagnostic-specific barriers to promote employment outcomes.

      List of abbreviations:

      MS (multiple sclerosis), SCI (spinal cord injury)


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