Background:

The COVID-19 pandemic led to approximately half of the working population in the United Kingdom being unable to work temporarily. This study aims to understand the employment needs and experiences of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the UK during this period.

Methods:

Multiple methods were used, including an online survey and follow-up interviews with people with MS who were employed prior to the start of the pandemic restrictions in March 2020.

Results:

The online survey was completed by 101 eligible participants and we interviewed 15 of them for qualitative data in the follow-up. Survey data indicated that the work experience of people with MS improved during the pandemic because they were allowed to work from home. However, participants experienced increased feelings of anxiety and loneliness. From the interviews, we extracted 5 themes: (1) the benefits of working from home; (2) the challenges of working during the COVID-19 pandemic; (3) the relevance of managers; (4) returning to “normal”; and (5) the need for vocational support.

Conclusions:

The pandemic showed that MS symptom management was improved by work flexibility (eg, working from home, breaks, flexible working hours); for people with MS, these accommodations improved both their ability to work and their self-perceived productivity. Future research should explore the support needs of people with MS who work remotely and determine whether pandemic-influenced work accommodations are sustainable over time.

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