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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 Nov;47(11):1708-11. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ken359. Epub 2008 Sep 24.

Working ability in relation to disease severity, everyday occupations and well-being in women with limited systemic sclerosis.

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Department of Rheumatology, Lund University Hospital, SE-22185 Lund, Sweden.



To investigate how women with SSc and varying degrees of working ability differed regarding disease severity, everyday occupations and well-being. Working ability was operationalized according to the degree of sick leave.


Forty-four women of working age with lcSSc were assessed regarding sociodemographic characteristics, disease severity including organ manifestation, perceived physical symptoms, hand function, and satisfaction with everyday occupations, self-rated health and well-being.


The subjects formed three groups with regard to reduction in working capacity. Twenty-one women (48%) had no sick leave, 15 women (34%) were on partial sick leave and eight women (18%) were temporarily on full-time sick leave or had a full disability pension. There were no statistically significant differences concerning sociodemographics between the groups. Women without sick leave had less physically demanding jobs (P = 0.026), and the hypothesis that working ability reflects lower disease severity was confirmed regarding dexterity grip force and perceived fatigue and breathlessness (P < 0.05). Greater working ability was associated with better capacity to perform activities of daily life (P < 0.01), greater satisfaction with occupations (P < 0.01), better well-being (P < 0.001) and better health (P < 0.001).


Fifty per cent of the women were restricted in their working ability; the lower the working ability, the lower their perceived well-being. This emphasizes the need for further research into the factors that promote working ability and the development of suitable methods to improve working ability.

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