Session Type: ACR Poster Session A
Session Time: 9:00AM-11:00AM
Background/Purpose: Health services addressing employment needs for people with arthritis are lacking. To address this need, we developed the Making it Work (MiW) program, an on-line self-management program aimed at helping people with inflammatory arthritis (IA) deal with employment issues. As part of a randomized controlled trial evaluating program effectiveness, this study aimed to explore participants’ experience and obtain insight on the perceived benefits and drawbacks of participating in the MiW program.
Methods: All MiW participants who attended the final group meeting between January 2015 and April 2016 were included in this study. Semi-structured debrief group discussions were conducted by the group facilitator at the end of the last online group meeting, which was recorded and transcribed. Using content analysis, transcripts were coded and concepts grouped into meaningful clusters to identify emerging themes. All participants had IA; were currently employed; aged 18-59 years; concerned about their ability to work; and had access to a computer.
Results: The sample included 62 participants [87% female; mean (SD) age: 46(9.9) years; disease duration: 9(9.1) years; with RA (51%), AS (13%), PsA (18%), or SLE (18%); working full time (69%); 19% self-employed]. Several participants highlighted the problem solving and goal setting technique, as well as strategies to manage fatigue and stress, as “really helpful” tools for managing their arthritis both at and outside of work. People newly diagnosed with IA or interested in making changes to their work now or further “down the road” described the modules as most “informative”. Some expressed interest in revisiting the material in the future. However, not all module content was relevant for everyone, as job situation (e.g. self-employed) or disease characteristics (e.g. those without fatigue) meant some content (e.g. disclosure or job accommodations, or dealing with fatigue) was not applicable to some workers. Perceived benefits/drawbacks of participation clustered around four themes: 1) Heightened awareness of how their arthritis affected their work; of their rights; and of resources available to them. 2) Empowerment vs. Frustration. Although most participants felt empowered by their increased awareness, a few became increasingly frustrated because they were unable to make changes to their work situation. 3) Improved self-efficacy. Many described feeling more confident about dealing with the challenges at work due to their arthritis, as a result of strategies and skills learnt. 4) Validation, resulting from groups meetings. Participants described that recognizing that their symptoms and struggles at work were shared by others with IA provided emotional relief from self-blame and self-doubt; being able to identify with and connect to other group members was comforting; receiving confirmation for strategies they had been using prior to MiW encouraged them to “keep at it”.
Conclusion: This study provides insight into what participants found helpful about the MiW program. These findings are informative to health professionals assisting clients in dealing with employment issues and researchers designing arthritis programs dealing with employment.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Li XY, Rogers P, Backman CL, Goldsmith CH, Gignac M, Li L, Esdaile J, Lacaille D. A Qualitative Study Exploring Participants’ Perception of the Making It Work Program, an Online Program to Help People with Inflammatory Arthritis Maintain Employment [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2016; 68 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/a-qualitative-study-exploring-participants-perception-of-the-making-it-work-program-an-online-program-to-help-people-with-inflammatory-arthritis-maintain-employment/. Accessed January 17, 2021.
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ACR Meeting Abstracts - https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/a-qualitative-study-exploring-participants-perception-of-the-making-it-work-program-an-online-program-to-help-people-with-inflammatory-arthritis-maintain-employment/