Work participation and work transition in patients with systemic sclerosis: a cross-sectional study

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2012 Feb;51(2):297-304. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ker288. Epub 2011 Oct 4.


Objectives: To describe work participation and work transition due to health in patients with SSc. Associations are assessed between having made a work transition or not and factors possibly influencing that transition.

Methods: This study included patients visiting the Scleroderma Clinic of the Ghent University Hospital, who regularly undergo an extensive evaluation. For this study, a questionnaire was used to collect work participation and work transition data.

Results: Eighty-four patients in the adult working-age population were included. Thirty-eight (45%) out of 84 patients participated in the labour force. Forty-six (55%) out of 84 were not engaged in a paid job; in 34 (74%) out of 46 patients this was attributed to health issues. Seventy-six (90%) out of 84 patients made a work transition. Forty-seven (62%) out of 76 made that transition due to health reasons. The group that made a health-related work transition (47/84, 56%) was compared with the remaining group (37/84, 44%) that made no work transition or a work transition for reasons other than health. There was a significant difference in educational level, skin score, lung disease severity, disease activity, disease duration, scleroderma Health Assessment Questionnaire (sHAQ), visual analogue scale (VAS) for RP, VAS for intestinal disease, VAS for overall disease, VAS for pain, Medical Outcomes Study short form 36 (SF-36), work statute and willingness to participate in training. The multivariate analysis retained sHAQ, SF-36 and disease duration as associating variables.

Conclusions: Work participation is limited in patients with SSc and a majority make a work transition because of health problems. Demographic, disease- and work-related variables, as well as willingness to participate in training are associated with (the occurrence of) work transition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health
  • Pain Measurement
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Work Capacity Evaluation*
  • Young Adult