Work loss and work entry among persons with systemic lupus erythematosus: Comparisons with a national matched sample


  • Because Drs. Katz and Yelin are Editors of Arthritis Care & Research, review of this article was handled by the Editor of Arthritis & Rheumatism.



To prospectively track work loss among those employed and work entry among those not employed in a cohort of persons with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), assess risk factors for these outcomes, and compare rates of the outcomes with a matched national sample.


The present study analyzed 4 years of data from the Lupus Outcomes Study (LOS), augmented by information on the local labor market from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We used the Kaplan-Meier method to assess time from study initiation until work loss or work entry, and Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate factors affecting these outcomes. Finally, we compared rates of work loss and work entry in the LOS with rates in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).


At study initiation, 394 LOS participants (51%) were employed, of whom 92 (23.4%) experienced work loss. In multivariate analysis, older age, lower cognitive and physical functioning, and higher reports of depressive symptoms predicted work loss. In comparison with the SIPP sample, rates of work loss did not differ. Of the 376 LOS participants not employed, 76 (20.2%) experienced work entry. In multivariate analysis, less disease activity, fewer lung manifestations, better physical functioning, and shorter time since last employment predicted work entry. In comparison with the SIPP, rates of work entry were only lower between ages 35 and 55 years.


Until age 55 years, low rates of employment among persons with SLE may be due to lower rates of work entry rather than higher rates of work loss. Beyond age 55 years, both high rates of work loss and low rates of work entry contribute to low rates of employment.