Work productivity in systemic sclerosis, its economic burden and association with health-related quality of life

Kathleen Morrisroe, Vijaya Sudararajan, Wendy Stevens, Joanne Sahhar, Jane Zochling, Janet Roddy, Susanna Proudman, Mandana Nikpour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. To evaluate work productivity and its economic burden in SSc patients. Methods. Consecutive SSc patients enrolled in the Australian Scleroderma Cohort Study were mailed questionnaires assessing employment (Workers' Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire and a custom-made questionnaire) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) (36-item Short Form Health Survey and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System 29). Linear regression methods were used to determine factors associated with work productivity. Results. Among 476 patients submitting responses, 55.2% < 65 years of age were employed. Unemployed patients were older at the time of survey completion (57.1 vs 53.7 years; P < 0.001) and had longer disease duration from first SSc clinical manifestation (16.2 vs 14.9 years; P = 0.01) than employed patients. The mean age at unemployment onset was 13.2 years below the average Australian retirement age. Of those working in the week prior to completing the survey, 16.0% reported missing work (absenteeism) due to their SSc, accounting for 32.9% of their working week. Reduced productivity while at work (presenteeism) accounted for 22% of their working week. Annual costs per patient as a consequence of unemployment and reduced productivity equated to a total of AUD$67 595.40. Factors independently associated with reduced work productivity were presence of synovitis and sicca symptoms, while tertiary education protected against work impairment. Patients with low HRQoL scores also had low work productivity. Conclusion. SSc is associated with considerable unemployment and reduced productivity, which in turn is associated with a substantial economic burden and poor HRQoL. Raising awareness and identifying modifiable factors are possible ways of reducing this burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Economic burden
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic sclerosis
  • Unemployment
  • Work productivity

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