The quest for greater flexibility: Creative innovations for workers with arthritis

Arthritis is a leading cause of disability among adults, and it often affects them in the prime of their career. How it’s approached in the workplace can make all the difference, according to a new study by an adjunct scientist at the Institute for Work & Health. An accessible and supportive workplace is the litmus test as to whether a person with arthritis can continue working. This is the implication of a study led by Institute for Work & Health (IWH) Adjunct Scientist Dr. Monique Gignac, which explored the sometimes mercurial combination of arthritis and work. Gignac and her team, including IWH Scientist Dr. Dorcas Beaton and Research Associate Ken Tang, completed a four-year study examining workplace activity limitations related to arthritis and their relationship to job modification and outcomes. The researchers concluded that employers—who may be unaware of the problem—can do things to help. “Policies like flex time can have a huge impact,” says Gignac, an associate professor at the University of Toronto. Disability related to arthritis has been linked to work loss and lost productivity. However, health factors don’t tell the whole story. They combine with other factors, such as the environment, interpersonal issues, including workplace support, and psychological factors like job stress, to predict a variety of work outcomes—absenteeism, reduced hours and job changes, for example. People with arthritis highlight a number of difficulties working. These relate to managing symptoms; worries about remaining employed; decisions about whether to disclose one’s condition; balancing work, health and family; and difficulties with the pace of work. Many employers are unaware that workers are having such difficulties. That’s because those with arthritis sometimes hesitate to tell others about their chronic condition for fear of looking sick, being seen as a poor worker or having limitations placed on their positions.

Source : http://www.iwh.on.ca/at-work/65/the-quest-for-greater-flexibility

Gignac, M. A. M., Cao, X., Tang, K. and Beaton, D. E. (2011), Examination of arthritis-related work place activity limitations and intermittent disability over four-and-a-half years and its relationship to job modifications and outcomes. Arthritis Care & Research, 63: 953–962. doi: 10.1002/acr.20456

 

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