A longitudinal study of the impact of social deprivation and disease severity on employment status in the UK cystic fibrosis population

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 23;8(8):e73322. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073322. eCollection 2013.


Background: People with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) in the UK and elsewhere are increasingly surviving into adulthood, yet there is little research on the employment consequences of having CF. We investigated, for the first time in a UK-wide cohort, longitudinal employment status, and its association with deprivation, disease severity, and time in hospital.

Methods: We did a longitudinal registry study of adults with CF in the UK aged 20 to 40 (3458 people with 15,572 observations between 1996 and 2010), using mixed effects models.

Results: Around 50% of adults with CF were in employment. Male sex, higher lung function and body mass index, and less time in hospital were associated with improved employment chances. All other things being equal, being in the most deprived quintile was associated with a reduction of employment prevalence of 17.6 percentage points compared to the prevalence in the least deprived quintile. Having poor lung function was associated with a reduced employment prevalence of 7.2 percentage points compared to the prevalence for people with relatively good lung function. Acting synergistically, deprivation modifies the effect of lung function on employment chances - poor lung function in the least deprived group was associated with a 3 percentage point reduction in employment chances, while poor lung function in the most deprived quintile was associated with a 7.7 point reduction in employment chances.

Conclusions: Greater deprivation, disease severity, and time in hospital are all associated with employment chances in adults with CF. Furthermore, our analysis suggests that deprivation amplifies the harmful association of disease severity on employment. Future studies should focus on understanding and mitigating the barriers to employment faced by people with CF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cystic Fibrosis / epidemiology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult