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.