Insights into issues related to job loss in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A UK national survey

Laura Lunt, Matthew Bezzant, Ailsa Bosworth, Karen Walker-Bone, Suzanne Verstappen

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Background: People with chronic musculoskeletal health condition(s), including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) continue to face challenges to remain in work, compared to healthy peers. Understanding why people have to stop working and possible issues people with RA face when trying to return to work will guide future interventions.

Methods: An online survey was sent to National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) members and distributed to non-members via social media tools. Questions about reasons to stop working and regaining employment were asked to those who were no longer working. Participants were also asked how serious specific issues in their last job were. A similar question was asked to those currently employed.

Results: Of those who completed the survey, 322/1222 (26%) people reported not being in paid employment, of which 42% stopped working because of their arthritis and 33% retired early because of their arthritis. The three most common reported reasons for leaving work were; unable to carry out duties because of physical limitations (63%), time off sick (38%) and fatigue affecting ability to work (65%). Prior to stopping work, less than 50% of respondents were given support to make changes to their working environment, including flexible working, working fewer hours or being provided with special equipment in their last job. Compared to those in current employment, a higher proportion of those not in work, reported more serious issues related to their arthritis in their last job, especially issues on having time off when having a flare, lack of support from employer/line manager and lack of understanding from colleagues (Table 1). 37% of those not working said they were willing to regain employment. 20% (including those who had retired early) said they had attempted to regain employment. Approximately two thirds (67%) of people said they declare their RA when applying for jobs.

Conclusion: A large proportion of people with RA had to either stop work or retire early because of their condition. Increasing awareness about RA and possible adjustments (e.g. flexible working) may increase the likelihood of remaining in work, meaning that people with RA can be financially independent and sustain their self-worth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)iii76
Number of pages1
JournalRheumatology (Print)
Issue numberSuppl 3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2018


  • rheumatoid arthritis


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