Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases: Impact on People’s Working Life

by | Mar 8, 2021 | Guest Authors | 0 comments

Dr Suzanne Verstappen is a Reader in Musculoskeletal Epidemiology in the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, School of Biological Sciences and Director of Social Responsibility in the School of Biological Sciences.

Her main research interest is in the long-term outcomes such as worker productivity loss, functional disability and co-morbidities and its predictors in patients with adult and juvenile onset inflammatory arthritis. Find out more below: 

Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs) and mental health problems are the two most common reasons for people of working age to have poorer work outcomes such as increased number of sick days or loss of work because of their disease. There are more than 200 RMDs affecting people across the life course, including children, adolescents, and adults at all ages. RMDs can influence career opportunities and may lead to health related sick leave and job loss.

For young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) for whom their education and first job may influence their future employment prospects and indeed their whole career paths.  For adults with RMDs retaining and remaining in paid work is important as in general being in paid work increases self-esteem and results in economic independency. 

For many individuals employment is further central to the individual’s identity, social roles and social status. For people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), barriers to remain in work include not being to carry out duties because of physical limitations, fatigue affecting ability to work, lack of understanding of the employer (NRAS WorkMatters). 

With several RMDs, including RA, fluctuating over time and signs of the disease often being invisible to colleagues and employers, lack of understanding is specifically a problem when adaptations of the working environment need to be discussed.  However, small adaptations can already make a huge difference for people with RMDs to remain in work, increasing self-worth, economic independence and likely increasing long-term better quality of life.

Let’s work together in supporting young adults with RMDs making their career choices and in supporting work participation of adults with RMDs.  

Find out more about Suzanne’s work here