Arthritis Work Disability: Epidemiology and Evidence-Basesd Employment Retention
Innovations in Disability and Health Promotion
Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are the most common cause of disability and a leading cause of limitation in ability to work. A job retention intervention designed for persons with arthritis effectively reduced work disability. This symposium will review research evidence on the effectiveness of job retention intervention and present completed and current research designed to translate such intervention to practice, consumers and policy.
Although arthritis is thought of as a condition affecting the elderly, 5.3% of U.S. adults aged 18-64 years report some limitation in ability to work due to arthritis or other rheumatic condition. Intervening on a preventive level, i.e., before job loss occurs, was shown in a randomized trial to effectively reduce premature work cessation in a sample of persons with arthritis. In the intervention, rehabilitation counselors helped participants to reduce barriers to working in their current jobs, consider their need for and identify future job changes, and recognize and advocate for their disability-related employment needs; the intervention was relatively brief. Subsequent translational research demonstrated the intervention could be conducted in the community among persons with a variety of chronic illnesses. Providing access to job retention intervention for persons with arthritis and other chronic illnesses is a major translation issue. Many of these individuals may not be eligible to receive services from the public vocational rehabilitation program, especially prior to job loss, and thus have little access to rehabilitation counseling. Our current research aims to improve access to job retention intervention by broadening the type and number of practitioners who can deliver this intervention. In this symposium we will initially review research evidence on the extent of arthritis work disability and the effect of various job retention interventions. We will then present information on the various issues related to translating the research finding of job retention effectiveness to practice, along with our current research on extending practice of the intervention to occupational and physical therapists. A videotape of the major intervention strategy being used by the therapists will be shown. Finally, issues in translating job retention intervention for persons with chronic illnesses to consumers and policy, as well as to practice, will be discussed.