Work is a way to contribute to society, to meet other people, to structure everyday life, and to have an income that can help to live a valuable life. Despite these merits, work is also a burden when pain, low energy levels, and musculoskeletal problems hamper the performance of tasks, or when commuting between home and work causes strain, and superiors or colleagues do not understand the consequences of fibromyalgia. To reduce the burden of work, employers are often imposed upon to make adaptations in the working hours, tasks or environment of employed patients, for example, by letting them work less hours, start later in the day, have a restricted physical work load, or have technical aids available. These adaptations do mostly not take into account other factors that may play a role in the work ability of patients with fibromyalgia, such as their home situation.
In the Netherlands, researchers and patient representatives together have identified all relevant characteristics of suitable work as perceived by patients with fibromyalgia (1). The subsequent step was to develop an instrument that people with fibromyalgia can use to become aware of the conditions that will make their work more suitable for them.
The name of the new instrument is ‘Passport Suitable Work’. The first part of the booklet includes a forced choice format that helps individual employees to become aware of the characteristics of suitable work that are important for them. The next part of the booklet offers tools that employees can use to negotiate with their employer and company physician to improve the match between job demands and capabilities. The ‘passport’ that was introduced in the past month is an example of an active and dynamic way to adapt to and self-manage the challenge of work. We expect that both employees with fibromyalgia and employers are positive about people with fibromyalgia becoming more active partners in discussions aimed to improve the suitability of their work.
Bossema ER, Kool MB, Cornet D, Vermaas P, de Jong M, van Middendorp H & Geenen R. Characteristics of suitable work from the perspective of patients with fibromyalgia. Rheumatology 2012;51:311-8.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared