Objective: The prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) increases, but the impact of the disorder on peoples' functional capacity is not known. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare self-reported health status and functional capacity of subjects with early OA of hip and/or knee to reference data of healthy working subjects and to assess whether this capacity is sufficient to meet physical job demands.
Methods: Self-reported health status and functional capacity of 93 subjects from the Cohort Hip and Cohort Knee (CHECK) were measured using the Short-Form 36 Health Survey and 6 tests of the Work Well Systems Functional Capacity Evaluation. Results were compared with reference data from 275 healthy workers, using t-tests. To compare the functional capacity with job demands, the proportions of subjects with OA performing lower than the p(5) of reference data were calculated.
Results: Compared to healthy workers, the subjects (mean age 56) from CHECK at baseline reported a significantly worse physical health status, whereas the women (n = 78) also reported a worse mental health status. On the FCE female OA subjects performed significantly lower than their healthy working counterparts on all 6 tests. Male OA subjects performed lower than male workers on 3 tests. A substantial proportion of women demonstrated functional capacities that could be considered insufficient to perform jobs with low physical demands.
Conclusions: Functional capacity and self-reported health of subjects with early OA of the hips and knees were worse compared to healthy ageing workers. A substantial proportion of female subjects did not meet physical job demands.