Low Risk of Unemployment, Sick Leave, and Work Disability Among Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A 7-year Follow-up Study of a Danish Inception Cohort

Vester-Andersen MK1, Prosberg MV, Vind I, Andersson M, Jess T, Bendtsen F. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 Jul 9. [Epub ahead of print]
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1*Gastro Unit, Medical Section, Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; †Department of Epidemiological Research, National Health Surveillance and Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark; and ‡Department of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Aalborg, Aalborg, Denmark.


BACKGROUND: To assess the occurrence and risk of unemployment (UE), sick leave (SL), and work disability (WD) in incident patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) after 7 years of follow-up compared with the background population and to determine outcome predictors.

METHODS: The study population consisted of patients aged 18 to 67 years (N = 379) from an IBD inception cohort registered January 1, 2003, and to December 31, 2004, in the Copenhagen area. Clinical data were retrospectively collected from medical records. Data on UE, SL, and WD were retrieved from national registries. A random subset of the general population (n = 1435) were matched with IBD cases based on sex, age, and residency. The cumulative probabilities of UE, SL, and WD were calculated. A Cox proportional hazard regression was performed to identify possible outcome predictors.

RESULTS: There was no difference in UE rates between patients with IBD and controls (P = 0.23). The risk of SL was significantly increased in patients with IBD (hazard ratio 2.0; 95% confidence interval 1.7-2.4). Patients with IBD showed a higher risk of WD (hazard ratio 2.1; 95% confidence interval 1.2-3.8), particularly male patients older than 55 years. The rate of WD in CD (5.8%) was markedly lowered compared with previous studies. Within the IBD population, sex, educational level, disease behavior, smoking status, and surgery were predictors of UE, SL, and WD.

CONCLUSIONS: The observed increased risk of SL and WD in patients with IBD underscores the need for the early identification of risk factors. A multidisciplinary approach to secure IBD patients' participation in the labor market is recommended.

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