Arthritis takes a toll on working population

October 31, 2012 | Natalie Pavlenko

One in three respondents to the ‘Fit For Work Survey’ conducted for The Arthritis Society reported that they stopped working because of their arthritis.  The ‘Fit for Work Survey’ polled 1,057 Canadians living with arthritis to investigate, identify and better understand the impact of this debilitating disease.  Alarmingly, nearly 60 per cent of those individuals who stopped working because of their arthritis were between the ages of 18 and 54.

“Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in Canada and its impact on the Canadian economy has been estimated at more than $33 billion annually, ” says Janet Yale, president and CEO of The Arthritis Society. “Our goal is to ensure that Canadians living with arthritis have access to timely care and proper treatment in order to reach their full potential in the workplace.”

Along with the physical pain of the disease comes emotional and financial stress: 70 per cent of survey respondents suffer from work-related anxiety. Their top worries include the ability to continue to earn a satisfactory income, not being able to handle work responsibilities and managing symptoms sufficiently to go to work.

Arthritis also affects quality of life: 53 per cent of respondents were forced to reduce the scope of their daily activities because of the limitations caused by their disease.

“As someone living with rheumatoid arthritis, I can attest that the disease has affected me both at home and at work,” says 30-year-old Laura Moses. “Luckily, I have found a treatment that works and can only hope it will continue to provide me with a good quality of life. I am blessed to still be working full-time and have insurance to help cover the costs, but I know that not everyone is so lucky.” 

In this regard, nearly half of Canadians living with arthritis were not able to access necessary and relevant treatment during the last year. Notably, 24 per cent of respondents were unable to access prescription medications and 30 per cent were unable to access physiotherapists and occupational therapists primarily because of cost factors.

“The survey results, regarding access to treatment, are concerning because they demonstrate the financial, physical, emotional and psychological toll on Canadians in the workplace who are living with arthritis. They reinforce the important and necessary role that The Arthritis Society, in collaboration with others, needs to play in removing barriers to treatment and creating an arthritis-friendly workplace,” says Janet Yale.

The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing, was made possible through a grant by Abbott Canada. Abbott, a global, broad-based health care company, has been supportive of the Fit for Work initiative both on the Canadian and international levels. The aim of the initiative is to demonstrate that improvements in early intervention, treatment and return to work practices could help people of working age, with even severe musculoskeletal disorders, continue to make a meaningful contribution in the workplace.

About The Arthritis Society

The Arthritis Society is dedicated to a vision of living well while creating a future without arthritis. It is Canada’s principal health charity providing education, programs and support to 4.6 million Canadians with arthritis and their loved ones. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non-government funder of arthritis research in Canada by investing more than $180 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis.

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For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Tonique Harry
Media Profile
416-342-1847
tonique.harry@mediaprofile.com

Natalie Pavlenko
The Arthritis Society
National Marketing and Communications Manager
416-979-7228 ext. 3348
npavlenko@arthritis.ca 

View Executive Summary of the “Fit For Work” survey
View “Fit for Work” Fact Sheet

The Impact of Arthritis in Canada: Today and over the Next 30 Years. http://www.arthritisalliance.ca/docs/20111022_2200_impact_of_arthritis.pdf