Objective: To examine the work participation of Dutch people with early osteoarthritis (OA) in hips or knees and compare this with data from the American Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) cohort. The influence of health status and personal factors on work participation was analyzed.
Methods: In the Cohort Hip and Cohort Knee (CHECK) study, 1,002 subjects were included. Baseline questionnaire data from 970 subjects were analyzed. Rate ratios were calculated to compare work participation with the general Dutch population, after correcting (by stratifying) for age, sex, and education. Health status was measured using the Short Form 36 health survey and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index. Groups were compared (CHECK versus OAI, workers versus nonworkers) using t-tests.
Results: The mean age of the subjects was 56 years and 79% were women. Overall participation was 51%, similar to the general Dutch population and lower than in the OAI (76%). Point prevalence of sick leave because of hip/knee symptoms was 2%, and year prevalence was 12%. Of the subjects, 14% had made work adaptations. Workers reported significantly better health status (corrected for age, sex, and education) than nonworkers.
Conclusion: Work participation of Dutch people with early OA is similar to the general population and significantly lower than American subjects. Increasing age, female sex, and lower education level were related to lower participation. Societal factors appear to have had more effect on work participation than health status in this stage of OA. The better health status of workers could not be explained solely by selection bias, but may be a result of work.