BACKGROUND: People with arthritis are at risk of work disability. Job accommodation and educational programs delivered before imminent work loss can minimize work disability, yet are not currently being widely implemented. The Work-It Study is a randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of a problem solving program delivered by physical and occupational therapy practitioners to prevent work loss over a two-year period among people with arthritis and rheumatological conditions.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this paper is to describe the protocol of the randomized controlled trial, and describe the baseline characteristics of the subjects and their work outcomes.
METHODS: 287 participants were recruited from the Boston area in Massachusetts, USA. Eligible participants were aged between 21-65, self-reported a physicians' diagnosis of arthritis, rheumatic condition, or chronic back pain, reported a concern about working now or in the near future due to your health, worked at least 15 hours a week, had plans to continue working, and worked or lived in Massachusetts. Subjects were recruited through community sources and rheumatology offices. Participants in the experimental group received a structured interview and an education and resource packet, while participants in the control received the resource packet only. The baseline characteristics and work related outcomes of the participants were analyzed.
CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, the Work-It Study is the largest and most diverse randomized controlled trial to date aiming to identify and problem solve work-related barriers, promote advocacy, and foster work disability knowledge among people with chronic disabling musculoskeletal conditions. Despite advances in medical management of arthritis and other rheumatological and musculoskeletal conditions, many people still have concerns about their ability to remain employed and are seeking strategies to help them sustain employment.