Session Type: ARHP Concurrent Abstract Session
Session Time: 11:00AM-12:30PM
Background/Purpose: Despite improved treatment, many individuals with inflammatory arthritis (IA) and osteoarthritis (OA) report difficulties working, reduced productivity and elevated absenteeism. Lacking is research on workplace policies and whether they are associated with better health and employment outcomes. This research: 1) examined the availability, need and use of diverse workplace policies, comparing those with arthritis to healthy controls; and 2) contrasted health and work outcomes of participants who reported accommodation needs were unmet to those whose needs were met or whose needs were exceeded (i.e., used more accommodations than needed).
Methods: Participants had osteoarthritis (OA) or inflammatory arthritis (IA) or no disabling health conditions. They were recruited from a national panel of 80,000 Canadians. Invitations were sent to a sub-sample of individuals aged ≥ 50 yrs to reach a quota of 500 arthritis and 500 healthy respondents. Eligibility included current employment; absence of disabling conditions other than arthritis; and fluency in English/French. A cross-sectional survey was administered on-line or by telephone and assessed demographic (age, gender, education); health (pain, fatigue, workplace activity limitations); work context (job sector, hours, physical work); workplace practices (health benefits, flexible hours, special equipment/adaptations, modified duties, altered work schedules, work-at-home arrangements) and job outcomes (absenteeism, productivity loss, job disruptions). Descriptive statistics and analyses of variance compared groups.
Results: There was a 59% response rate to study invitations and final sample of 631 participants with arthritis (OA>70%; women=53.6%) and 538 with no disabling conditions (healthy controls, 44% women). Groups were similar in demographics, work context and availability of policies to manage work and health. Those with arthritis reported significantly poorer health (pain, fatigue, workplace activity limitations). Yet, there were few differences in their reports of needing or using workplace policies compared to healthy controls. Exceptions were that more individuals with arthritis reported needing and using modified job duties and needing special equipment/adaptations. Comparing the groups revealed similar associations of policy use and job outcomes. Healthy controls and those with arthritis who had unmet accommodation needs reported greater work stress, health variability, productivity loss and job disruptions. Unmet need in those with arthritis also was related to greater fatigue and workplace activity limitations. Respondents whose needs were exceeded had the lowest levels of fatigue, activity limitations, productivity loss and job disruptions.
Conclusion: Despite poorer health, respondents with arthritis often did not take advantage of available workplace policies. Yet using accommodations, even when not needed, was associated with better health and work outcomes. These results need to be replicated with longitudinal data. However, they point to potential benefits of more proactive use of work policies to manage arthritis and employment.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Gignac MAM, Badley EM, Beaton D, Kristman V, Mustard C, Smith P, Ibrahim S. Sustaining Employment with Arthritis: Can Existing Workplace Policies and Accommodations Make a Difference? [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015; 67 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/sustaining-employment-with-arthritis-can-existing-workplace-policies-and-accommodations-make-a-difference/. Accessed October 23, 2020.
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