Work disability among people with ankylosing spondylitis

Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Oct;45(5):424-9. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200110)45:5<424::aid-art361>;2-7.


Objective: To investigate work disability among people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in terms of correlates and coping mechanisms.

Methods: The sample group (n = 133) was recruited through 2 sources: 1) consecutive patients attending outpatient clinics over a 6-month period, and 2) a random sample of members of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society. We used a cross-sectional survey with data collected by self-administered questionnaires and telephone interviews with a randomly selected subsample (n = 6).

Results: The majority of participants were men. The mean age was 49 years; the mean disease duration was 28 years. Thirty-one percent were unable to work because of AS, with an additional 15% reporting changes to their working lives attributable to AS (e.g., reduction in hours worked, change of job). Compared with being in full-time work, work disability was associated with being older, longer disease duration, lower educational standard, comorbidity, greater physical impairment, pain, fatigue, stiffness, anxious and depressed mood, and lower self-esteem. Descriptive data added further insight into the experience of work disability and coping with AS in a work environment.

Conclusion: Work disability is worthy of further investigation to determine exact prevalence rates and psychosocial implications. Work disability could be addressed with simple interventions or adaptations in the workplace.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / diagnosis*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / psychology
  • Work Capacity Evaluation