Microaggressions experienced by people with multiple sclerosis in the workplace: An exploratory study using Sue’s taxonomy.

Purpose: Microaggressions are subtle forms of discrimination and include verbal, nonverbal, or environmental slights that convey disparaging messages to people based upon their group membership, such as disability. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experience of microaggressions in the workplace among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Method: This study used a community-based participatory research approach and qualitative design. Adults with MS (N = 29) with current or recent work experience were recruited to participate in a focus group study. Eight focus groups were conducted and transcripts analyzed using qualitative content analysis to generate themes and subthemes. Study protocol, coding, and interpretations underwent a validity check by an external advisory group consisting of researchers in the field and individuals with MS. Results: Almost all of the participants in this study reported experiencing some form of microaggressions in their workplace. Several important themes emerged, including pathologizing, assumption of disability status, second-class, lack of awareness, social distance, and denial. This study also found that perceived stress was associated with microaggressions and that microaggression exacerbated the negative impact of uncertainty related to symptoms and job security. Participants also identified various coping strategies used to deal with microagressions, such as involvement in support groups and meditation. Implications: The themes that emerged from the focus groups further our understanding of microaggressions as a factor impacting the work experiences of people with MS. Findings have implications for rehabilitation practitioners and future research to promote work life, job retention, and well-being of people with MS. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)