Background Polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM) are characterized by muscle weakness which affects activity and participation. Work and leisure are the activities patients with PM/DM perceive as most limited. Previous studies addressing work in terms of how many are employed and degree of sick-leave. No study has investigated the self-rated work ability or how the work environment affects the ability to work in these patients.
Objectives Describe the self-rated work ability and interference and support in the work environment for patients with PM/DM.
Methods Observational cross-sectional descriptive study of patients with PM or DM included in the Swedish Myositis Network Registry in Stockholm.
Self-rated work ability was assessed by the questionnaire Work Ability Index which contains seven dimensions. The sum of the seven dimensions gives a score indicating poor, less good, good and excellent work ability. The work environment was assessed by the standardized interview instrument Work Environment Impact Scale (WEIS) which contains 17 items reflecting on the physical and social work environment. The answers of the 17 items are rated by the assessor on a 4-grade scale from strong interference to strong support.
Results There were 38 patients with PM (n=19) and DM (n=19) included in this study. Mean age 51 (±10) years with a mean disease duration of 8 (±9) years. Most patients worked full time (55%) and there were only 5% (two patients) on full time sick-leave. 53% of the patients perceived their work to be mentally demanding, only 3% had merely physically demanding work while 45% assessed their work to be a combination of both physically and mentally demanding. The work ability was almost equally distributed between poor to less good work ability (53%) and good to excellent work ability (47%). Even though 53% self-rated their work ability as poor or less good about 39% had less than one week absentee from work the last 12 month. These results indicate that the patients might attend work despite reduced work ability. Concerning the work environment, 66% of the patients the tasks were at some points too demanding for the person to handle, in 47% the noise and disturbance in the working area affected the possibility to concentrate, 42% considered the expectations on performance being too great, 41% thought there was a lack of appreciation for the work that was being done in forms of salary raise or other career possibilities and 37% had not enough time to handle the work load. Interaction with co-workers (97%) and others (92%) was considered as a support for the work ability. Approximately 95% considered their work to be both meaningful and valuable.
Conclusions Most of the patients with PM/DM in this study were working full time but about half rated their work ability to be poor or less good. Parts in the work environment considered a hindrance concerned demand at work (tasks or role) and the lack of rewards of work commitment. Parts in the environment giving support had to do with interaction with clients or co-workers and the meaning of work.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared