Disclosing about MS in the work place

Kirk-Brown A, Van Dijk P, Simmons R, Bourne M, Cooper B.Disclosure of diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in the workplace positively affects employment status and job tenure. Mult Scler. 2013. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND: For many employees with multiple sclerosis (MS), disclosure of their diagnosis at work is seen as a high-risk strategy that might lead to diminished perceptions of their capabilities by supervisors and colleagues, if not outright discrimination. The consequence of this mistrust surrounding the disclosure process is that employees with MS may leave it until too late to effectively manage symptoms at work.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to statistically evaluate the relationship between disclosure of diagnosis at work and maintenance of employment.

METHODS: Three annual, large-sample self-report surveys of MS patients prospectively examined the relationship between disclosure of diagnosis at work and employment status. A total of 1438 people responded to all three surveys. Of employed persons in 2010 (n = 946), 673 also responded to the 2012 survey. Of these 673 respondents 564 were still employed.
RESULTS: People who had disclosed their MS status to an employer were more likely to remain in employment in Year 3. The effect of disclosure in predicting employment status remained after controlling for age, gender, hours worked and level of disability.
CONCLUSION: This study provides the first empirical support for the positive role of disclosure in maintaining employment status, measured both as job retention and tenure in current employment.
I am not in a position to comment on the pros and cons of disclosure. I know that my Institute activity aims to employ about a certain percentage of people with disabilities, and they have to make provisions or this. They can only do this if they know. But I am also well aware that disclosure may not be a positive experience. Perhaps read the Stumbling in Flats blog. I wonder if the data would be more skewed by the 270 plus missing.