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Work disability, lost productivity and associated risk factors in patients diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Abstract

Objective

To assess prevalence and correlates of work presenteeism, absenteeism and work disability (WD) in patients with systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) and matched controls.

Methods

Patients with SLE from six medical centres were recruited to complete a questionnaire consisting of several prevalidated survey instruments. The subject's rheumatologist completed medical history. Subjects recruited two non-SLE 'best friend' controls with matching demographics to complete a control survey. Analyses employed Student's t tests, χ(2) tests and logistic regression models.

Results

344 subjects with SLE and 322 controls submitted completed questionnaires. Mean pain, fatigue, Brief Cognitive Symptoms Index (BCSI) scores and depressive symptoms were worse in patients with SLE with WD (all p<0.01). WD was associated with African-American race, older age (51-65 years) and less than 4-year college education (all p<0.01). High presenteeism was associated with low pain and fatigue levels, higher BCSI scores and negatively correlated with depressive symptoms (all p<0.05). Increased pain and fatigue were associated with elevated absenteeism (p<0.05). Subjects with physically and cognitively demanding work reported worse presenteeism compared with controls with similar jobs (77% vs 85%, p<0.05 and 75% vs 85%, p<0.001), respectively. Patients with most cognitively demanding jobs reported greater weekly absenteeism (mean, 5.9 h) compared with controls (mean, 6.9 overtime hours, p<0.05).

Conclusions

The questionnaire demonstrated increased WD in SLE. Highly physical and highly cognitive jobs are challenging to patients with SLE and had increased absenteeism compared with controls. Depressive symptoms were correlated with better presenteeism without major socio-demographic determinants. Employability may be enhanced by improving treatment of depressive symptoms in patients with SLE.

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