Identification of modifiable work-related factors that influence the risk of work disability in rheumatoid arthritis




To define work-related factors associated with increased risk of work disability (WD) in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Questionnaires were mailed to all RA patients who used a province-wide arthritis treatment program between 1991 and 1998 (n = 1,824). The association between risk factors and WD (defined as no paid work due to RA for at least 6 months) was assessed using multiple logistic regression analysis, controlling for significant sociodemographic and disease-related variables.


Of the original 1,824 patients, 581 were eligible and responded to the questionnaire. Work survival analysis revealed a steady rate of WD starting early, with 7.5%, 18%, and 27% work disabled at 1, 5, and 10 years, respectively. Significant determinants in multiple logistic regression were physical function (Health Assessment Questionnaire), pain (visual analog scale), and 6 work-related factors: self employment, workstation modification, work importance, family support toward employment, commuting difficulty, and comfort telling coworkers about RA.


Work disability occurs early in RA. Novel work-related factors were identified, which are potentially modifiable, to help RA patients stay employed.