Employment across chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases and comparison with the general population

Wilfried Mau*, Joachim Listing, Doerte Huscher, Henning Zeidler, Angela Zink, M. Schneider, E. Genth, J. Sieper, H. E. Schroeder, B. Swoboda, C. Specker, K. L. Schmidt, H. Merk, U. Schneider, G. Hein, H. Haentzschel, W. L. Gross, J. Kekow, R. Dreher, M. SchattenkirchnerM. Gaubitz, H. Mielke, U. Mueller-Ladner, J. P. Kaltwasser, M. Keysser, M. Pfreundschuh, H. H. Peter, R. Maleitzke

*Corresponding author for this work
154 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. To compare labor force participation across chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases in order to assess the influence of the disease, disease duration, sex, education, and labor market conditions on employment. Methods. Data from the German rheumatological database on outpatients of working age (20-59 yrs) between 1993 and 2001 were analyzed. The patients had rheumatoid arthritis (RA; n = 26,071), ankylosing spondylitis (AS; n = 5564), psoriatic arthritis (PsA; n = 6041), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; n = 4603), systemic sclerosis (SSc; n = 802), or Wegener's granulomatosis (WG; n = 385). Using population data, standardized employment ratios (SER) and part-time employment ratios of observed versus expected cases with 95% CI were calculated by means of indirect standardization for age and year of documentation. Results. Across all diseases the overall employment rates were significantly lower than in the general population. Significant differences in SER were found between the diseases. The lowest SER of 0.76 to 0.81 (1.0 = population) were found in patients with RA, SLE, SSc, and WG. Higher SER were seen in AS (0.94) and PsA (0.92). In patients with a disease duration > 10 years the relative risk of being employed compared to RA, was 1.42 for AS, 1.26 for PsA, and 1.15, 1.03, 0.62 for PsA, SLE, SSc and WG, respectively. Comparing areas with low and high unemployment rates, a highly significant influence of labor market conditions on the SER was observed. The SER were significantly lower in patients with < 10 years of school education. Conclusion. Differences between employment rates in the population and the rates for the diseases under study are smaller than assumed by most clinical studies, especially in AS and PsA. However, these differences increase with longer disease duration. Specific measures to prevent patients from losing their job are needed, especially in areas with overall high unemployment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)721-728
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 04.2005

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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