Objective: To examine differences by sex in correlates of work status in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients seen in rheumatology clinical settings.
Methods: Associations of demographic factors, occupation, duration of RA, and scores for disease and psychological scales with work status according to sex were examined in a cross-sectional study of 960 RA patients, aged 18-64 years, of whom 451 were working and 254 were work-disabled. Comparisons of characteristics were conducted by logistic regression between working and work-disabled, and between working and not working subjects.
Results: For both men and women, the odds of work disability increased with age, duration of RA, nonwhite race, and scores indicating high levels of functional disability, pain, and helplessness. Work-disabled women were more likely than working women to have less than a high school education or a nonprofessional occupation, compared with little association of these variables with work disability in men. Unmarried men were more likely to be work-disabled than working, while marital status was not associated with work disability in women. Differences by sex in the associations of pain and helplessness scores with work disability were also observed. Similar results were observed in associations of these characteristics when the outcome was coded as working versus not working.
Conclusions: These findings indicate some differences between men and women with RA in correlates of work disability that may help to more effectively target interventions. A patient's sex should be an important consideration in studies of work disability due to arthritis.