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Rheumatol Int. 2014 Dec;34(12):1751-8. doi: 10.1007/s00296-014-3040-0. Epub 2014 May 29.

Impact of morning stiffness on working behaviour and performance in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Public Health, University of Turku, Lemminkäisenkatu 1, 20014, Turku, Finland,


Work disability remains a considerable problem for many patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Morning stiffness is a symptom of RA associated with early retirement from work and with impaired functional ability. We aimed to explore the patient's perception of the impact of morning stiffness on the working life of patients with RA. A survey was conducted in 11 European countries. Patients of working age, with RA for ≥6 months and morning stiffness ≥3 mornings a week, were interviewed by telephone using a structured questionnaire. Responses were assessed in the total sample and in subgroups defined by severity and duration of morning stiffness and by country. A total of 1,061 respondents completed the survey, 534 were working, 224 were retired and the rest were, i.e. homemakers and unemployed. Among the 534 working respondents, RA-related morning stiffness affected work performance (47 %), resulted in late arrival at work (33 %) and required sick leave in the past month (15 %). Of the 224 retired respondents, 159 (71 %) stopped working earlier than their expected retirement age, with 64 % giving RA-related morning stiffness as a reason. There was a differential impact of increasing severity and increasing duration of morning stiffness on the various parameters studied. There were notable inter-country differences in the impact of RA-related morning stiffness on ability to work and on retirement. This large survey showed that from the patient's perspective, morning stiffness reduces the ability to work in patients with RA and contributes to early retirement.

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