Study Finds Idiopathic Inflammatory Rheumatic Diseases are Linked with More Sick Leave

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According to the study, these findings can inform policy decisions and assist in developing interventions aimed at reducing absenteeism and promoting the productivity of individuals with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases.

Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti, PhD

Credit: ResearchGate

Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti, PhD

Credit: ResearchGate

New data from more than 5 thousand patients demonstrate those with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases experience approximately 2.5 times more sick leave when compared with controls. The average days per patient-year were 21.7 in those with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases, and 8.5 days per patient-year for controls.1

Short-term sick leave was common and patients taking a sickness absence period of 1-9 days was observed in most of the target population. Investigators reported this finding accounted for 30% of the total absenteeism.

Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti, PhD, Medaffcon Oy, Metsänneidonkuja 8, 02130 Espoo, Finland, and a team of investigators aimed to evaluate the number and duration of sick leave and occupational healthcare resource utilization among employed patients with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases. The team compared these data with an age-, sex-, and follow-up-matched control group of individuals without idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases.

For the analysis, data on sick leave and occupational healthcare resource utilization were collected from the electronic medical records of the largest occupational healthcare provider in Finland between January 2012 - December 2019.

The study identified 5,405 employed patients with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, psoriatic and enteropathic arthritis, juvenile arthritis, and reactive arthritis.

A primary inclusion criteria were a follow-up period of at least 12 months. They were compared with an equal number of controls without idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases.

This suggests that short-term sick leave, which is not typically registered in national insurance registers, accounted for a significant proportion of days off work among patients with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Furthermore, investigators reported the loss of productivity due to missed workdays was on average €4,572 (95% CI, €4,352-€4,804) per patient year.

Results also exhibited occupational healthcare resource utilization was approximately 1.8 times higher among patients with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases than those without. The experience of patients with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases consisted of a significantly higher rate of occupational health care services and increased sick leave as compared with individuals without these conditions.

The study included a full report of data in the S1 table of the study which displayed the number and proportion of sick leave days, as well as the periods in the patient cohort with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases as compared with the control group without those conditions.

According to the data, sick leave length was divided into 3 categories: 1-3 days, 1-9 days, and 10 or more days. When investigators assessed those with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases, sick leave periods lasting 1-9 days were the most common, accounting for 83% of all sick leave periods and 30% of all sick leave days.

Sick leave periods lasting 10 or more days accounted for 17% of all sick leave periods but represented the majority of sick leave days, which encompassed 70% of all sick leave days.

In comparison, among the control group, sick leave periods lasting 1-9 days accounted for 90% of all sick leave periods and 40% of all sick leave days.

The study noted periods of sick leave lasting more than 10 accounted for only 13% of all sick leave periods which represented 60% of all sick leave days.

Overall, investigators concluded that patients with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases exhibited a higher proportion of sick leave days and periods compared with controls. Patients in who participated in the 1-9 days leave period demonstrated the highest proportion of sick leave days.

Additionally, the investigators noted that these findings offer valuable insights into the impact of idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases on sick leave and occupational healthcare resource utilization. This information can be helpful in informing policy decisions and developing interventions aimed at reducing absenteeism and promoting the productivity of individuals with idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases.

References:

  1. Ukkola-Vuoti L, Karlsson A, Tuominen S, et al. Burden of idiopathic inflammatory rheumatic diseases in occupational healthcare: increased absenteeism and healthcare resource utilization [published online ahead of print, 2023 Apr 24]. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2023;4095. doi:10.5271/sjweh.4095
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