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Multiple Sclerosis International
Volume 2017, Article ID 8010912, 7 pages
Research Article

Work Change in Multiple Sclerosis as Motivated by the Pursuit of Illness-Work-Life Balance: A Qualitative Study

1Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine, Monash University Malaysia, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, Bandar Sunway, Malaysia
2Multiple Sclerosis Society Malaysia, Unit 4-14, 4th Floor, Building Information Centre, Jalan 243, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
3School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, WA, Australia
4United Nations University-International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) Building, UKM Medical Centre, Jalan Yaacob Latif, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Correspondence should be addressed to Lavanya Vijayasingham; ude.hsanom@mahgnisayajiv.aynaval

Received 22 August 2017; Accepted 24 October 2017; Published 16 November 2017

Academic Editor: Angelo Ghezzi

Copyright © 2017 Lavanya Vijayasingham et al. 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.


Individuals with multiple sclerosis have a tendency to make early decisions for work change, even in reversible, episodic, or mild disease stages. To better understand how a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis influences perceptions of work and motivations for work changes, we conducted a hermeneutic phenomenology study to explore the work lives of ten individuals with MS in Malaysia. The interpretive analysis and cumulative narratives depict an overarching change in their concept of ideal work and life aspirations and how participants make preemptive work changes to manage illness-work-life futures in subjectively meaningful ways. Discussions on their integrated pursuit of finding dynamic and subjective illness-work-life balance include reconciling the problem of hard work and stress on disease activity and progress, making positive lifestyle changes as health management behaviour, and the motivational influence of their own life and family roles: the consideration of their spouses, parents, and children. At an action level, work change was seen as moral and necessary for the management of illness futures. Our findings contribute insights on how individual perceptions and holistic life management decisions contribute to on-going and disrupted work trajectories, which can inform practice and policy on early interventions to support continued employment.