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