Barriers to and Facilitators of Employment among Americans with Multiple Sclerosis: Results of a Qualitative Focus Group Study

Authors: Bolton, B. F., Bellini, J. L., & Brookings, J. B.
Year Published 2016
Publication Journal of Rehabilitation
Volume 82
Number 2
Pages 59-69
Publisher National Rehabilitation Association

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex and chronic neurological disease. There are approximately 450, 000 people living in the United States who have been diagnosed with MS. These people can experience a wide variety of symptoms including fatigue, mobility problems, visual impairments and much more. Due to these symptoms employment retention and acquisition can be challenging.


This research focuses on two primary questions. One, what are the most commonly reported barriers and facilitators to employment that are identified by people with MS? Two, what are the most commonly reported employment information and resource needs reported by people with MS?


Participants were recruited from five stakeholder groups of people with physical disabilities. These groups included the National MS Society, United Spinal Cord Injury Association, World Institute on Disability, United Cerebral Palsy, and National Centers for Independent Living.


Participants in this study were 25 predominantly Caucasian (n=18, 72%) females (n=19, 76%) between 18 and 64 years of age.

Data Collection

Telephone focus groups were conducted and provided transcripts for the research team to analyze using NVivo 10 using a conventional qualitative content analysis approach.


There was no control group.


There were three main themes (and additional sub-themes) as a result of this research. Participants reported facing future uncertainty, feeling a sense of loss, and discussed issues related to navigating the workplace.


Vocational Rehabilitation counselors would benefit by increased knowledge around the issues that people with MS face in the workplace, especially in the area if disclosure.

Populations Male & Female | White / Caucasian
Outcomes Other
NIDILRR Funded Yes
Research Design Qualitative
Peer Reviewed Yes