Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2003;29(2):134-142    pdf

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.715 | Issue date: Apr 2003

What employees with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus and hearing loss need to cope at work

by Detaille SI, Haafkens JA, van Dijk FJH

Objectives This study attempted to determine factors that help currently employed people with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus or hearing loss to continue working.

Methods This was a qualitative study that used three concept-mapping sessions. Sixty-nine participants (rheumatoid arthritis 21, diabetes mellitus 23, and hearing loss 25) were recruited from the patient records of the rheumatology, diabetes, and audiology outpatients of the Academic Medical Center (AMC), Amsterdam, and referrals from occupational physicians and patient associations. An arthritis consultant, a diabetes consultant, and an audiologist screened the patients for the used illness inclusion criteria. A researcher screened the patients for the inclusion criteria of age and work.

Results The main factors enabling employees to continue working were ability to cope with the illness, support from management and colleagues, adequate work conditions, support of patient organizations and society, support of medical professionals and facilities, and benefits. The three groups of employees rated the priority of these factors differently. For the employees with rheumatoid arthritis, the support of management was the most important, followed by self-acceptance, self-efficacy, and professional advice on how to cope at work. For those with diabetes mellitus, self-acceptance, self-care, and support from management, colleagues and health professionals were the most important. For employees with hearing loss, being well informed about hearing equipment, reimbursement, and self-acceptance were the most important. A topic list was developed that can be used by health professionals as a guideline for exploring the work-related problems of patients with a chronic disease.

Conclusions The results provide an understanding of the needs chronically ill employees have at work and the areas to which health professionals need to pay attention.

The following articles refer to this text: 2009;35(4):261-281; 2011;37(4):288-297; 2019;45(1):73-81