Developing a complex vocational rehabilitation intervention for patients with inflammatory arthritis: the WORK-ON study

BMC Health Serv Res. 2023 Jul 8;23(1):739. doi: 10.1186/s12913-023-09780-2.


Background: People with inflammatory arthritis often experience challenges at work and balancing paid work and energy in everyday life. Low work ability is common, and people with inflammatory arthritis face high risks of losing their jobs and permanent exclusion from the labour market. Context-specific tailored rehabilitation targeting persons with inflammatory arthritis is limited. The aim of this study is to describe the development of WORK-ON - a vocational rehabilitation for people with inflammatory arthritis.

Methods: Following the Medical Research Council's framework for complex interventions, WORK-ON was developed based on existing evidence, interviews with patients and rehabilitation clinicians, a workshop, and an iterative process.

Results: The six-month vocational rehabilitation, WORK-ON, consists of 1) an initial assessment and goal setting by an occupational therapist experienced in rheumatology rehabilitation, 2) coordination by the same occupational therapist and individual support, including navigating across the primary and secondary health sectors, as well as social care, 3) group sessions for peer support, and 4) optionally individually tailored consultations with physiotherapists, nurses, or social workers.

Conclusion: WORK-ON is ready to be tested in a feasibility study.

Trial registration: The Regional Committees on Health Ethics for Southern Denmark stated that no formal ethical approval was necessary in this study (20,192,000-105).

Keywords: Axial spondylarthritis; Complex intervention; Development process; Psoriatic arthritis; Rheumatoid arthritis; Work ability.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis*
  • Humans
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational*
  • Research Design