To examine perceived independence, overprotection, and support, and their association with the employment participation of young adults with rheumatic disease.
One hundred and forty-three young adults, ages 18 to 30 years, with systemic lupus erythematosus (54.5%) and juvenile arthritis (45.5%) completed a 30-min online questionnaire of their work and education experiences. Information collected was demographic, health (e.g., pain, fatigue, disease activity), work context (e.g., career satisfaction, helpfulness of job accommodation/benefits, and workplace activity limitations), and psychosocial (e.g., independence, social support, and overprotection). Log-Poisson regression analysis examined factors associated with employment status.
Over half of respondents were employed (59%) and 26% were enrolled in school. Respondents reported moderate to high perceptions of independence and social support. However, 27% reported that “quite a bit” to “a great deal” of overprotection characterized their relationships with those closest to them. At the bivariate level, employed participants and those indicating greater perceived independence reported greater social support and less overprotection. Multivariable analysis revealed that being employed was associated with older age, more job accommodations/benefits perceived as being helpful, and greater perceived independence.
This is one of the first studies examining the employment of young adults with rheumatic diseases. Findings highlight the importance of psychosocial perceptions such as independence and overprotection, in addition to support related to working. Additional research is needed to better understand the role of those close to young adults with rheumatic diseases in supporting independence and encouraging employment.