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J Rheumatol. 2001 Feb;28(2):315-21.

Risk factors for work disability in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

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Medical Service, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, California 94304, USA.



To identify risk factors for work disability in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).


Risk factors for permanent work disability and for receipt of disability payments were assessed using Cox regression models in a retrospective cohort study of 234 patients with AS. Candidate risk factors included age at onset of AS, sex, race, education level, marital status, the presence of comorbid conditions, smoking and drinking history, recreational activity, occupation, and physical activity at work. Risk factors for changes in the type of work performed, decrease in number of hours worked, long sick leave, and the need for help at work were assessed using logistic regression models in a prospective study of the subset of 144 patients who reported working for pay during the study. Candidate risk factors for these aspects of work disability were age, sex, race, education level, levels of functional disability, pain and stiffness, changes in functional disability, pain or stiffness over the preceding 6 months, minutes/week of recreational exercise, back exercises, freedom of movement at work, control over the pace of work, and physical activity at work.


In a cohort of 234 patients with a median duration of AS of 21.4 years, 31 patients (13.2%) developed permanent work disability and 57 patients (24.3%) had received disability payments. Older age at onset of AS, less formal education, and having had jobs that were more physically active were significant risk factors for permanent work disability. These factors, along with the presence of a comorbid condition and being female, were also significantly associated with the receipt of disability payments. In a prospective study of 144 patients followed for a median of 4 years, higher levels of functional disability and pain were associated with increased risks of decreased work hours, long sick leaves, and needing help at work, while higher levels of pain were also associated with an increased risk of changing the type of work performed. Women were significantly more likely than men to change their type of work or decrease their work hours. Patients whose jobs were more physically demanding were more likely to change their type of work or need help at work.


Patients with AS who have physically demanding jobs are more likely to experience permanent or temporary work disability, or need to change the type of work done or receive help at work, than those with jobs that are less physically demanding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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