Background: We aimed to explore whether country of residence or specific country characteristics are associated with work outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods: Data from the 17 countries participating in the Comorbidities in RA (COMORA) study were used. Work outcomes were measured by the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire, addressing employment (yes/no), absenteeism (percentage of time; 3 categories) and presenteeism (percentage of at-work productivity restrictions; 4 categories). Contribution of country of residence, gross domestic product (GDP), Human Development Index (HDI), unemployment rate, social protection expenditures (SPE) or world region to work outcomes was investigated in adjusted (ordered) logistic regressions. Results: The patients (n=2395) were younger than 60years; mean age 48 (SD 9.2) years, 1972 (84%) female and 1065 (45%) employed. Large country differences were found. Taking the country with the best work outcome as reference, Moroccan patients had the lowest odds of being employed (OR 0.2 (95% CI 0.1; 0.3) vs. Germany) and highest odds of absenteeism (OR 13.2 (3.6; 48.3) vs. Japan). Patients in Taiwan had the highest odds of presenteeism (OR 13.0 (5.5; 30.9) vs. Venezuela). All country indices except SPE were associated with work outcomes. For example, patients in low-GDP countries had lower odds of employment (OR 0.6 (0.5; 0.8)), higher odds of absenteeism (OR 2.8 (2.0; 4.1)), but lower odds of presenteeism (OR 0.5 (0.4; 0.7)) compared to higher-GDP countries. Conclusion: Substantial differences in work outcomes among patients with RA were observed between countries. Lower economic wealth and human development of countries were associated with worse employment and higher absenteeism, but lower presenteeism.
- Rheumatoid arthritis