Background Employees with inflammatory arthritis (IA) face restrictions in work performance from early onset of the disease, even with the improved medication regimes (1-2). Little is known about the specifics of work adaptations and whether the workers involved experience the adaptations as successful (3).
Objectives to determine what problems patients with IA encounter at work, what adjustments they made in work task, working hours and workplace and what roles particular stakeholders played to facilitate these adaptations.
Methods Telephone interviews were conducted among working recent-onset IA patients on work adaptations, self-management of the worker, disclosure, stakeholders involved and combining work with other activities at home or in leisure activities.
Results Ninetypatients with paid employment were interviewed. Sixty-five patients encountered problems at work, initiated by pain, fatigue, physical limitations and high job demands. Forty-five persons adapted their work. The vast majority discussed their joint complaints and the consequences for their work with their colleagues and/or supervisor. Stakeholders involved in order of importance were: supervisor, rheumatologist, occupational physician and general practitioner. Forty-three persons found it difficult to combine work with other activities at home or in leisure activities and thirty-one of them had to give up or reduce certain activities to continue their work.
Conclusions A large proportion of patients with early IA already encountered problems at work, sometimes even before the diagnosis was made. Pain, fatigue and physical limitations were the most important problems at work which most patients dealt actively with by adjusting their work tasks or work time. Remaining employed is regarded very important, patients expect their rheumatologist to optimize medication to facilitate this.
Geuskens GA, Burdorf A, Hazes JM. Consequences of rheumatoid arthritis for performance of social roles–a literature review. J Rheumatol 2007;34(6):1248-60.
Geuskens GA, Hazes JM, Barendregt PJ, Burdorf A. Work and sick leave among patients with early inflammatory joint conditions. Arthritis Rheum 2008;59(10):1458-66.
Allaire SH. What work changes do people with arthritis make to preserve employment, and are such changes effective? Arthritis Rheum 2004;51(6):871-3.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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