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Work Disability Caused by Arthritis is Common

But the rates may be improving

MONDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of work disability is 35 percent among individuals who have had rheumatoid arthritis for at least 10 years, but this may be an improvement from a prevalence of 50 percent reported in a 1987 study, according to an article published in the April 15 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Saralynn Allaire, ScD, of Boston University in Boston and colleagues examined data from 5,384 individuals with rheumatologist-diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis in order to provide a contemporary estimate of the incidence and prevalence of work disability due to rheumatoid arthritis in the United States.

The mean age of subjects was 52, and 82 percent were female. The mean duration of disease was 14 years. The prevalence of any premature work cessation was 23 percent in those with one to three years of disease duration, 35 percent in those with at least 10 years and 51 percent in those with at least 25 years. The prevalence of arthritis-attributed work cessation was 14 percent, 29 percent and 42 percent, respectively. The annual incidence of arthritis-attributed work cessation was 6 percent. Nearly 40 percent of patients who stopped working later returned to work.

"In conclusion, our data suggest that work disability among persons with RA in the US is still a substantial problem," write the authors.

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