Disease-generic factors of work participation of workers with a chronic disease: a systematic review

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2015 Nov;88(8):1015-29. doi: 10.1007/s00420-015-1025-2. Epub 2015 Feb 25.


Purpose: The purpose of this review was to search systematically for disease-generic factors associated with either work retention (WR) or return to work (RTW) in people of working age with a chronic disease.

Methods: An extensive search was performed in PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO and CINAHL for English-, Dutch- and German-language studies searching on synonyms of the terms chronic disease, WR and RTW. Studies were selected if they described factors related to WR or RTW and included participants with a chronic disease of working age (15-67 years old).

Results: From 2597 hits in the electronic databases, we identified six studies reporting 23 factors associated with work participation. Categorized according to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, health-related factors (comorbidity, duration of symptoms and less dysfunction), environmental factors (work environment and duration of absence) and personal factors (age, gender, education and own prediction of RTW) were identified.

Conclusions: Various disease-generic factors are associated with work participation, of which most of the reported factors are independent of diagnosis. Evidence of the retrieved factors is restricted due to the limited availability of studies focusing on disease-generic factors and overall low quality of the retrieved studies.

Keywords: Chronic condition; Chronic illness; Employment; Health status; Occupational health; Stay at work.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Middle Aged
  • Return to Work / psychology*
  • Workplace / psychology*
  • Young Adult