Introduction: The impact of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on quality of life (QoL) can be measured in terms of physical, psychological and social consequences, including the ability to work.
Subjects and methods: This multi-center, cross-sectional study explored relationships between QoL, employment status and physical function in ESRD patients aged 18-65 years, via a customised interviewer-administered questionnaire, which included the SF-36 health survey. The International Labour Office method was applied to describe employment rate.
Results: 144 patients (85 male, 49 female), comprising 49 haemodialysis (HD), 35 peritoneal dialysis (PD) and 60 renal transplant (TX) patients were studied. Mean age was 44 +/- 12 years. 32 were voluntarily not working, leaving 112 in the labour force. Of the latter, 49% were unemployed, in contrast with the concurrent national rate of 10%. QoL in the ESRD group was reduced in the SF-36 physical and social dimensions compared to population norms. Unemployed ESRD patients scored significantly lower than those employed in physical function, role physical, bodily pain, general health, vitality and role emotional scales. Logistic regression demonstrated that multiple comorbidities (p<0.005), a premorbid physical occupation (p<0.05) and poor physical function (p<0.05) predicted unemployment in ESRD independent of all other variables. Multiple regression showed that age (p<0.05), female sex (p<0.05) and a diagnosis of musculoskeletal disease (p<0.005) were independent predictors of poor physical function.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that vocational rehabilitation of ESRD patients must consider physical function and occupational demands as well as co-morbidity and that musculoskeletal disease is key factor in impaired physical function.