Prevention of Arthritis-Related Work Disability


Boston University Charles River Campus




Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Osteoarthritis, Knee
Rheumatoid Arthritis


Other: Rehabilitation counseling

Study type


Funder types



P60AR020613 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)
NIAMS-012 (Other Identifier)
EEHRS Project 3 (Other Identifier)

Details and patient eligibility


People with rheumatic disorders (arthritis) often have trouble keeping their jobs. This study will look at whether vocational rehabilitation (VR) will improve the ability of employed people with arthritis to keep their jobs. Job retention VR services target key factors that increase the risk of job loss. They aim to modify jobs to reduce barriers caused by functional limitations and disease symptoms, future career planning, and establish a partnership with a VR counselor for ongoing help. We will conduct the study among patients with rheumatic disorders recruited in eastern Massachusetts. We will give 120 study participants job retention services provided by VR counselors. We will give another 120 participants literature about employment- related resources. We will compare the outcomes of the two groups to evaluate the usefulness of job retention services in preventing job loss in people with rheumatic disorders.

Full description

Job loss commonly occurs among people with rheumatic disorders. This study will determine whether vocational rehabilitation (VR) provided to employed people with rheumatic disorders will improve their ability to remain employed. VR is applied primarily to people who have already lost their jobs. However, using job retention VR services may prevent, or delay, the onset of employment work loss among people with rheumatic disorders. Job retention VR services target important employment-loss risk factors. They do so by modifying jobs to reduce barriers posed by functional limitations and symptoms, promoting future career planning, and establishing an alliance with a VR counselor for ongoing assistance. The study is a randomized, controlled trial conducted among patients with rheumatic disorders recruited from the practices of rheumatologists in eastern Massachusetts. We will randomly assign 120 study participants to receive job-retention services provided by VR counselors and 120 participants (controls) to receive literature about employment-related resources. We will assess intermediate outcome variables (self-efficacy, work limitations, and job accommodation-seeking behaviors) and the endpoint outcome variable, work instability (a measure that includes employment loss), immediately prior to the interventions and at 6-month intervals over a 24-month period after the interventions are carried out. We will compare the outcomes of the two groups to evaluate the usefulness of job retention services in forestalling work instability in this population.


242 patients




18 to 65 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Must currently be employed full or part time
  • Must live in selected communities in eastern Massachusetts

Exclusion criteria

  • Plans to move from area
  • Plans to have joint replacement surgery in next 6 months
  • Plans to retire or go on disability within next 2 years

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Single Group Assignment


Triple Blind

242 participants in 2 patient groups

Rehabilitation counseling
Experimental group
Rehabilitation counseling Experimental Rehabilitation counseling was provided by rehabilitation counselors. They administered the Work Experience Survey; provided and discussed disability rights and responsibilities and provided career counseling they as needed.
Other: Rehabilitation counseling
printed information
Active Comparator group
Active comparator Control group participants received relevant printed information in the mail only; no rehabilitation counseling
Other: Rehabilitation counseling

Trial contacts and locations



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