Background Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that causes significant disability impacts health related quality of life and is a major economic burden. Many studies have shown RA to be associated with absenteeism, job loss, and impairment in work productivity. Biologic therapies have improved the management of RA through marked reductions in the manifestations of RA and improvement of function.
Objectives A cross sectional survey was carried out using our biologics database to evaluate the impact of biologics on employment in a cohort of patients with Rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods A patient-self-reported questionnaire was developed in conjuction with a patient expert group to assess the work status at the onset of their disease, onset of biological treatment and current work status. Time from diagnosis to first biologic was evaluated, as was smoking status. Patients were also asked about the current impact of RA on their life and how biologic therapy had improved their arthritis. Patients were randomly chosen to receive this questionaire.
Results Of the 100 questionnaires distributed, 93 were completed and returned. 27% were male, and 22.5% were current smokers. The mean time from diagnosis to first biologic was 8 years. At diagnosis, 46% were in full-time employment, 26% part-time employment, 15% were retired, and 10% were unable to work due to rheumatoid arthritis or other medical condition. At the start of biologic therapy, 29% were in full time employment, 19% in part time employment, 28% were retired, and 21.5% were unable to work due to RA. At present, 29% remain in full time employment, 23% in part time employment, 31% retired, and only 13% were unable to work due to RA. 53% reported that their arthritis was much better since starting their biologic, and 38% said their arthritis was better. Patients in full time employment had a shorter time before first biologic (mean 6 years), patients unable to work due to their arthritis had a longer time to their first biologic (10.1 years).
Conclusions Patients with RA who received biologic therapy remained in full or part time employment and the number of patients unable to work was reduced. Patient satisfaction with their health state also improved with biologic therapy. Earlier biologic therapy improves their ability to retain employment.
Disclosure of Interest None declared