To examine the employment status characteristics of people with arthritis disability, with a focus on gender differences and who remains in the workforce.


Analyses were based on cross-sectional, self-reported data of the Canadian Participation and Activity Limitation Survey, administered in 2001–2002 (n = 28,908). Labor force status was categorized into employed, unemployed, and not in the labor force. Prevalence estimates were derived from descriptive analyses, and logistic regression determined the factors associated with being out of the labor force. Chi-square and sex-stratified analyses examined gender differences.


An estimated 2.3% of the working-age population (ages 25–64 years) reported arthritis disability, and >50% were out of the labor force. Being female, single, older, and having less education and more severe pain and disability were associated with being out of the labor force. Employed women with arthritis disability required more accommodations in the workplace and reported more activity limitations than men. Perceived discrimination was more likely to be reported by employed men, and men reported more changes to their work than women.


This study underscores the importance of looking more closely at differences in the employment experiences of women and men. Specifically, the results suggest that arthritis may marginalize women and men in different ways. Women may be more likely to leave employment, whereas men may be more likely to remain working and report negative workplace experiences.