Arthritis & Rheumatism, Volume 62,
November 2010 Abstract Supplement

Abstracts of the American College of
Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
Annual Scientific Meeting
Atlanta, Georgia November 6-11, 2010.


Arthritis Hurts Your Resume: State-Specific Arthritis-Attributable Work Limitation and Employment among Working-Age (1864) Adults.

Theis3,  Kristina, Hootman2,  Jennifer M., Helmick1,  Charles G.

CDC, Atlanta, GA
Centers for Disease Control, Kennesaw, GA
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Background:

State-specific estimates of arthritis-attributable work limitation (AAWL) help define and raise awareness of an important consequence of arthritis, and provide state programs and policy-makers with data for planning interventions. We estimate the state-specific prevalence of AAWL and employment status among people with and without arthritis.

Methods:

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey is a state-based, random-digit-dialed telephone health survey of noninstitutionalized US civilian adults >=18 years conducted annually in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Data were from the 2009 BRFSS survey (n = 424,592). Arthritis was defined as 'yes' to: "Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health care professional that you have arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia?" AAWL was defined as 'yes' to: "In this next question, we are referring to work for pay. Do arthritis or joint symptoms now affect whether you work, the type of work you do, or the amount of work you do?" Employment rate, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, requires information on specific efforts to find employment, which is unavailable in BRFSS; so, we examined employment status by report of being: employed, out-of-work, or retired/unable to work. Students and homemakers were excluded from the analysis. Weighted point estimates and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated for AAWL and employment, accounting for the complex survey design. Statistical significance was p < 0.05.

Results:

Median state-specific prevalence of AAWL among all working-age adults was 6.4% (range 4.3% (NJ) to 13.2% (KY)). Among working-age adults with arthritis, median AAWL was 33.9% (range 26.2% (CT) to 44.9% (KY)) The median percent employed among people without arthritis was 81.9% (range 73.5% (NV) to 90.5% (SD)), was significantly lower in every state for those with arthritis (median 64.2%, range 50.0% (TN) to 77.3% (SD)), and lowest for adults with AAWL (median 44.5%, range 32.4% (TN) to 64.0% (IA)). There were few statistically significant differences in the prevalence of being out-of-work. With the exception of 6 states (same patterns but not significant), those with AAWL reported being retired/unable to work statistically significantly more often than those with arthritis but no AAWL (median 40.9% vs. 26.0%) In all states, those with arthritis (with or without reported AAWL) reported being retired/unable to work statistically significantly more often than those without arthritis (median 6.5%).

Conclusion:

AAWL affects approximately 1-in-16 working-age adults. Working-age adults with arthritis (with and without AAWL) are more likely to report being retired/unable to work than out-of-work, suggesting that they may have given up on trying to be an active part of the labor force. These data identify higher risk states which can be targeted for expanding the reach of evidence-based programs addressing disability, as well as increasing the use of vocational rehabilitation and job retraining programs.

To cite this abstract, please use the following information:
Theis, Kristina, Hootman, Jennifer M., Helmick, Charles G.; Arthritis Hurts Your Resume: State-Specific Arthritis-Attributable Work Limitation and Employment among Working-Age (1864) Adults. [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 2010;62 Suppl 10 :2069
DOI: 10.1002/art.29834

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