241176 Aging with neuromuscular disease: Implications for employment

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 9:42 AM

Kara McMullen, MPH , Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Kurt L. Johnson, PhD , Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Individuals with neuromuscular disease (NMD) often face employment challenges. However, the interaction of the aging process with employment problems is poorly understood. Individuals with NMD, diagnosed with post-polio syndrome or muscular dystrophy between the ages of 45-65 (n = 408) involved in an self-report survey project were asked to report on employment status as well as working preference, secondary conditions, and demographic variables. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses were conducted to examine prevalence of employment in this age cohort, and to identify variables associated with employment. The majority reported that they were not employed (67.5%). Of those who were unemployed, 4% were actively looking for a job, while 44% indicated that they would prefer to be working, but were unable to because of their health, and 5% would prefer to be working but were unable to because they would lose benefits. 98% reported current weakness, 96% reported current fatigue, and 90% reported current imbalance. Variables statistically significantly associated with presence or absence of employment included age, education, and mobility. The high prevalence of secondary conditions reported indicates a large burden of disease in the sample population, while the large percentage who indicated that they would prefer to work indicates a gap that needs to be filled. Although health problems can affect work, oftentimes accommodations can be found that allow an individual to continue productive work in spite of health or mobility impairments. Clinicians should discuss employment with their NMD patients and potential interventions should consider mobility in interference with employment.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe secondary conditions for people aging with NMD and identify variables associated with employment.

Keywords: Disability, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a MPH focusing on community health and I have been researching disability issues for over two years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.