Effect of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Diagnosis on Work, Employment Status

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The impact of MPNs on the work-related performance and careers has not been extensively researched.
The impact of MPNs on the work-related performance and careers has not been extensively researched.

Many patients experience a negative impact on work productivity and employment status after a diagnosis of myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN), according to a study published in BMC Cancer.

The clinical adverse effects of MPNs (eg, polycythemia vera [PV], essential thrombocytopenia [ET], myelofibrosis [MF]) are well known; risks for cardiovascular and thrombotic events and various other symptoms are increased. The impact of illness on the workplace and careers, however, have yet to be explored.

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For this study, researchers sent the cross-sectional online survey “Living with MPNs” to patients with a myeloproliferative neoplasm. The survey consisted of approximately 100 questions related to MPN, focusing on factors such as diagnosis, symptoms, and changes in employment, work productivity, and daily activities. The Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Specific Health Problem questionnaire (WPAI-SHP) was used to evaluate the effects of MPN on work productivity and activity for currently employed respondents, and the MPN Symptom Assessment Form Total Symptom Score (MPN-SAF TSS) was used to measure symptom burden.

There was a total of 904 respondents, of which 592 reported being employed at the time of diagnosis; 173 respondents had myelofibrosis, 248 had polycythemia vera, and 170 had essential thrombocytopenia.

Survey results showed that 50.5% of the 592 employed respondents reported at least 1 change in their employment status; 30.2% reported that they “left a job,” 24.8% reported they went on disability leave, and 21.8% reported they experienced reductions in work hours for at least 3 months.

Among the 398 respondents who were employed at the time of the survey, WPAI-SHP scores revealed high rates of absenteeism, presenteeism (being at work despite adverse conditions leading to reduced productivity), overall work impairment, and activity impairment. Further analysis revealed that the degree of work impairment (WPAI-SHP scores) positively correlated with symptom burden (MPN-SAF TSS scores).

The authors concluded that “effective and timely management of MPNs and related symptoms could reduce the adverse impact on employment and work productivity and potentially abate losses in income.”


Yu J, Parasuraman S, Paranagama D, et al. Impact of myeloproliferative neoplasms on patients' employment status and work productivity in the United States: results from the living with MPNs survey[published online April 13, 2018]. BMC Cancer.doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4322-9

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