Background Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a progressive disease which leads to early work disability.
Objectives To determine the factors of work disability in patients with RA.
Methods The study included 283 patients with RA in the Special Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases Novi Sad in the period of one year. Patients average age was 51.5 years (range 30–68), mean disease duration 11 years (range 2–37 years). All patients were treated with conventional DMARD's and 38% got prednisolone,too. They were determined with disease activity-DAS28, HAQ-DI Health Assessment Questionnaire for Rheumatoid Arthritis and made a X-ray of hands and feet. All patients filled out a questionnaire that included questions related to education, qualifications, type of work, conditions of the workplace, motivisanos to work, distance and way of coming to work, the existence of some of the categories of disability and time of its creation, and the existence of other diseases.
Results After 2 years of the disease, 99% of patients were able to work. After 5 years in 30% was required retraining, 10% had part-time work, while 9% of patients were permanently disabled for work. After 10 years of the disease in 50% of patients was required retraining, 10% had part-time work, while 40% was permanently work disabled. After 15 years, 61% of patients were permanently unable to work. After 23 years there was no working abled patients. The most common cause of work disability 32% was the weight of work that has been associated with a low level of education (p<0.001) -without a professional education 50%, 42% high school education, 28% had high disease activity that is correlated with high values of HAQ-DI (p<0.001). Poor working conditions as risk factors were present in 17%, the presence of concomitant diseases in 10% (57% cardio vascular diseases), lack of motivation to work in 8%, distance from work in 5%.
Conclusions The lower level of education, heavier physical labor and poor working conditions in patients with high disease activity and low functional ability led to early work disability. Early and aggressive treatment of RA with conventional DMAR and biological medications, also as raising the level of education and the improvement of working conditions can affect the reduction of work disability after years of disease duration.
Ann Rheum Dis 2013;72:875–875.
Disclosure of Interest None declared