Objective: To describe the prevalence, incidence, and correlates of work disability among persons with musculoskeletal conditions.
Methods: Literature review and analysis of the Health and Retirement Survey, a national, probability sample of community-based adults ages 51-61.
Results: Clinical samples of persons with RA report work disability rates of 51% to 60%. Community-based studies of persons with a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions find work disability rates of 38% to 71%, depending on the mix of symptoms and particular sampling strategy. Persons with musculoskeletal conditions and comorbidity are particularly prone to work loss, with three-quarters leaving work prior to the normal age of retirement. In multivariate models, after adjusting for demographic and functional characteristics, persons with musculoskeletal conditions actually are more likely to work than those without.
Conclusions: Persons with musculoskeletal conditions have high rates of work disability, but given their level of impairment, are more likely to work than persons without musculoskeletal conditions.