FUNCTIONAL HINDRANCE, COMORBID DEPRESSION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF RESTRICTIVE LUNG DISEASE ARE LINKED TO ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS PATIENTS’ WITHDRAWAL FROM THE WORKFORCE
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a debilitating inflammatory rheumatic condition that has been associated with young patients’ early retirement from the workforce. The present study aimed to examine the characteristics of professionally active patients with AS who were applying for work disability. Material and methods: We conducted a prospective observational study on working age patients with AS. The inclusion criteria were confirmed AS diagnosis, professionally active status, and stable treatment for at least 6 months. We assessed functional impairment using BASFI (Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index). Results: The study group included 114 patients with AS. Functional hindrance (based on BASFI scores) was a major factor leading to work disability. Work impairment was more frequent in male patients, yet females were the only ones to retire from the workforce in the first 5 years of illness. We obtained statistically significant results regarding the association between work disability and restrictive lung disease as well as depression. Moreover, the relationship with restrictive lung disease remained statistically significant in subjects under 40 years of age as well as in the subgroup with a disease duration under 10 years. Conclusions: Our results indicate that, together with functional impairment, comorbid depression and an early development of restrictive lung disease may impact the work status of AS patients. Further longitudinal studies are needed to define and monitor the factors that lead to work disability in AS.
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