Session Type: Abstract Submissions (ACR)
Background/Purpose: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex, chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by fluctuating periods of disease activity affecting multiple organ systems. This study was conducted to evaluate the impact of SLE on patients’ employment and productivity.
Methods: A longitudinal cohort of employed SLE patients in the United States, recruited through a patient advocacy association and the Harris Chronic Illness Panel, was surveyed online (IRB approved) between Dec 2010 and Aug 2011. Inclusion criteria were ≥18 years old, self-reported SLE diagnosis, and ≥1 SLE flare in prior 3 months requiring medical attention (taking medications, calling or visiting a physician, or going to the ER or hospital). A control group of employed patients without SLE recruited from HarrisPollOnline (HPOL) were demographically matched (age, sex, race, income, and education) to the employed SLE cohort. Controls met the above inclusion criteria excluding the SLE related criteria and were also surveyed online. A group of unemployed SLE patients were also recruited for research, but not included in this analysis of employed cohorts. Both the employed SLE patients and controls completed baseline and follow-up surveys at the end of 6 months. Questions for the SLE cohort included perceived SLE disease activity over the past 3 months using a 10-point scale (mild: 0-3, moderate: 4-6, severe: 7-10), impact of SLE on work productivity and absenteeism. The control group answered similar questions about the impact of any health conditions on work. Employed and unemployed SLE patients were compared to controls by dependent sample t-tests.
Results: 281 employed SLE patients and 300 employed controls completed the survey; of the 300 control group respondents, 69% reported having ≥1 health condition(s). The mean age in the employed SLE group and control groups was 39.8 and 41.1 years, respectively (p<0.05). Of all surveyed respondents, 96% were female and 79% were Caucasian (no significant differences across groups). The employed SLE cohort reported fewer overall hours worked per week (25.3 vs 32.8) and more lost work hours per week due to SLE (6.9 hours) than the employed control group due to any health condition (1.6 hours)(all p-values<0.05). While at work, patients reported significantly greater impact on productivity due to SLE (45%) compared to controls for any health reason (13%, p<0.05). In the SLE employed group, the number of work hours missed increased as self-reported disease severity worsened from mild, moderate, to severe (2.0, 4.2, and 7.9 hours, respectively (p<0.05). Hourly employees with SLE (52.3% of SLE cohort) reported losing an average of $346 per week due to their lupus. Similarly, lost income per week increased as SLE activity increased ($49 in mild to $522 in severe, p<0.05).
Conclusion: Patients with SLE reported significantly reduced ability to work compounded by worsening disease activity. For hourly employees with SLE, increased disease activity may have significant detrimental impacts to their earning potential.
Human Genome Sciences, Inc,
Human Genome Sciences, Inc.,
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ACR Meeting Abstracts - https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/impact-of-systemic-lupus-erythematosus-on-work-productivity-and-income-in-the-united-states/