A Europe-wide study into the impact of Parkinson’s on employment highlights how quickly people with the condition are forced to leave work after diagnosis – and why.
The study found that on average, people living with Parkinson’s leave work five years after diagnosis.
The seven-month-long research project, conducted by Oxford Brookes University, UK, in collaboration with the European Parkinson Therapy Centre in Italy, invited people with Parkinson’s to complete a short online survey on working life and employment around diagnosis.
Annette Cockroft, a Master’s student at Oxford Brookes who worked on the study, said organisers hoped to “…shine a light on the challenge for people with Parkinson’s who are trying to balance symptom management with maintaining their employment status”, as well as the role earlier diagnosis can play in keeping people with Parkinson’s working for longer.
Results showed that the majority of the 692 participants – who had an average age of 58 – left work 4.22 years after diagnosis, citing fatigue, mobility, and difficulty with manual tasks as the biggest factors that contributed to this outcome.
Speech impairment and symptoms of depression also shortened time to loss of employment.
Of those who left work, two-thirds indicated they would have liked to continue working, and that having more flexible work patterns and hours, and better control of symptoms, would help enable a return to work.
Early treatment of the condition proved to have no overall effect on how soon participants lost paid employment, with researchers committing to investigating the matter further.
Other factors explored in the survey ranged from gender to education – with results finding that men tended to stay in work for longer than women; as did those with a higher education versus those without.
Annette Cockroft, Master’s student, Oxford Brookes University, UK
Roisin McCormack, Parkinson’s Life https://parkinsonslife.eu/