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Pain Research and Management
Volume 18 (2013), Issue 5, Pages e94-e100

Does Pain in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis Affect Employment? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Shahnaz Shahrbanian,1 Mohammad Auais,1 Pierre Duquette,2 Katie Anderson,3 and Nancy E Mayo1,3

1School of Physical & Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2Notre-Dame Hospital (CHUM), University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3Division of Clinical Epidemiology, McGill University Health Centre, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience some of the highest unemployment rates among all groups of chronic illnesses. Pain has been found to be a common reason for sick leave or early retirement in healthy populations or other groups with chronic illness; however, there is little awareness regarding the effect of pain on the work status of individuals with MS.

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the extent to which individuals with pain differ in employment status compared with those without pain among MS patients.

METHODS: An extensive systematic review of the scientific literature was performed within the framework of the Cochrane Collaboration to identify studies focusing on the effect of pain on employment in individuals with MS. The following databases were searched: PubMed, EMBASE, PsychInfo, Web of Science, MD Consult and Elsevier, and Science Direct. The methodological quality of studies was assessed using the McMaster Critical Review Form.

RESULTS: Ten articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the systematic review. Of these studies, five that exhibited clinical, methodological and statistical homogeneity were included in the meta-analysis. The between-groups (pain + versus pain −) pooled random OR of being employed was 0.7 (strong), and was significantly different from unity (95% CI 0.5 to 0.9; P=0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The results of the present study indicated that individuals with MS who experience pain were significantly more likely to report a decreased employment rate than individuals with MS who were pain free.