Work disability among workers with osteoarthritis of the knee: risks factors, assessment scales, and interventions

Int J Rehabil Res. 2014 Dec;37(4):290-6. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0000000000000082.


The prevalence of knee osteoarthritis (OA) among individuals active in the workforce will increase considerably in the next generation and a significant percentage of these individuals are expected to experience work disability because of this disease. The aim of this review was to summarize the existing knowledge on the following: (a) work disability risk factors; (b) reliable and valid work disability assessment tools; and (c) efficient interventions to reduce work disability in individuals with knee OA. An electronic document search using key words and MeSH terms was performed with various databases. Two independent investigators were tasked with the screening of articles and quality assessment. A critical appraisal of what is known was performed and recommendations for clinical practice and future research were formulated. The database search yielded 61 references. One article on risk factors, three related to assessment tools, and two on interventions were retained. Age and previous work absence episodes were found to be risk factors of workplace disability. The Work Limitation Questionnaire, the Work Instability Scale for Rheumatoid Arthritis, and the Workplace Activity Limitations Scale were psychometrically sound for the population studied. Education-based interventions seem to be more effective than conventional interventions in helping individuals with knee OA return to work faster, reduce the number of days absent from work, and improve their overall well-being. This review is the first to summarize the evidence on work disability risk factors, assessment tools, and interventions for this growing population and to show a critical gap in the existing knowledge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors