Most studies of employment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have focused on job loss. Less is known about workplace events in patients who continued to work. The goal of this longitudinal study was to compare the incidence of negative workplace events between employed patients with RA and healthy controls.
Participants completed the work domains of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Interview Life Events Scale and the Inventory of Small Life Events Scale measuring major and minor workplace events. Events were compared between groups according to psychosocial, clinical, and job characteristics.
A total of 122 patients with RA and 122 healthy controls were enrolled with similar demographic and occupational characteristics. There were no differences in percentages of patients and controls who had at least 1 major (35% versus 31%) or 1 minor (48% versus 55%) negative event. For patients with RA, negative events were associated with having more pain, more fatigue, more social stress, and less job autonomy (P ≤ 0.05). For controls, in addition to social stress, negative events were associated with job characteristics, functional status, and social support (P ≤ 0.05).
A comparable number of patients with RA and controls had negative workplace events. In addition to the well-known contributions of job autonomy and pain, social stress and fatigue also were found to be important variables related to negative events in patients with RA. These potentially modifiable variables have not been fully evaluated with respect to long-term employment in these patients.