Unpacking Early Work Experiences of Young Adults With Rheumatic Disease: An Examination of Absenteeism, Job Disruptions, and Productivity Loss
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OBJECTIVE: To examine work absenteeism, job disruptions, and perceived productivity loss and factors associated with each outcome in young adults living with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and juvenile arthritis (JA). METHODS: One hundred forty-three young adults, ages 18-30 years with SLE (54.5%) and JA (45.5%), completed an online survey of work experiences. Demographic, health (e.g., fatigue, disease activity), psychosocial (e.g., independence, social support), and work context (e.g., career satisfaction, job control, self-disclosure) information was collected. Participants were asked about absenteeism, job disruptions, and perceived productivity loss in the last 6 months. Log Poisson regression analyses examined factors associated with work outcomes. RESULTS: A majority of participants (59%) were employed and reported a well-managed health condition. Employed respondents were satisfied with their career progress and indicated moderate job control. More than 40% of participants reported absenteeism, job disruptions, and productivity loss. Greater job control and self-disclosure, and less social support, were related to a higher likelihood of absenteeism. More disease activity was related to a greater likelihood of reporting job disruptions. Lower fatigue and higher job control were associated with a reduced likelihood of a productivity loss. CONCLUSION: Young adult respondents with rheumatic disease experienced challenges with employment, including absenteeism, job disruptions, and productivity loss. While related to greater absenteeism, job control could play a role in a young person's ability to manage their health condition and sustain productive employment. Greater attention should also be paid to understanding health factors and social support in early work experiences.
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