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The effect of rheumatoid arthritis on personal income in Australia

Authors

  • E. M. Shanahan,

    Corresponding author
    1. 1 School of Health Sciences, Flinders University, 2Rheumatology Research Unit, Repatriation General Hospital and 3School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    • E. Michael Shanahan, Rheumatology Research Unit, Repatriation General Hospital, Daws Road, Daw Park, SA 5041, Australia.
      Email: michael.shanahan@fmc.sa.gov.au

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  • 1,2 M. D. Smith,

    1. 1 School of Health Sciences, Flinders University, 2Rheumatology Research Unit, Repatriation General Hospital and 3School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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  • 1,2 L. Roberts-Thomson,

    1. 1 School of Health Sciences, Flinders University, 2Rheumatology Research Unit, Repatriation General Hospital and 3School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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  • 2 A. Esterman,

    1. 1 School of Health Sciences, Flinders University, 2Rheumatology Research Unit, Repatriation General Hospital and 3School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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  • and 3 M. J. Ahern 1,2

    1. 1 School of Health Sciences, Flinders University, 2Rheumatology Research Unit, Repatriation General Hospital and 3School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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  • Funding: Dr Shanahan was supported by an NH&MRC research scholarship.

    Potential conflicts of interest: None

Abstract

Background:  The aim of this study was to estimate the effect of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on the personal income of a cohort of individuals with RA in Australia.

Methods:  A cross-sectional study of a sample of 497 working age people with RA in Adelaide, South Australia was carried out.

Results:  The average personal income of an individual with RA in our cohort in 2003–2004 was $A22 400 compared with the Australian mean annual income of $A38 000. When standardized, the income of our cohort was 66% that of the average income of the Australian population. Overall one-third of the RA cohort relied principally on the social security system for their income and more than 75% of the cohort estimated they had lost greater than $A10 000 per annum in personal income as a result of their disease. Individuals with RA who were not working had annual incomes on average of more than $A20 000 less than those who continued to work.

Conclusion:  The personal income loss associated with RA in Australia is of enormous significance. It reduces a large population of individuals to relative financial poverty and potentially limits their access to a range of services including private health services.

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