Disability From Juvenile Arthritis Hurts Adult Job Prospects

THURSDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- Adults with high levels of physical disability caused by juvenile arthritis have difficulty getting good jobs, a new study says.

Chronic arthritis that occurs in people younger than age 16 is called juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Aggressive, early treatment can benefit patients, but some have long-term joint damage, disability and reduced quality of life.

Adults with juvenile idiopathic arthritis have much higher rates of unemployment than other adults, and the reasons for this have been poorly understood, said Dr. Ajay Malviya, a consultant orthopedic surgeon at Newcastle Upon Tyne National Health Service Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom.

To investigate the issue, Malviya and colleagues looked at 22 male and 81 female patients with an average age of 24. Half had lived with juvenile idiopathic arthritis for 19 years or more; the others had it fewer than 19 years. The participants provided information about their levels of education, job status and degree of physical disability.

The study was published online May 31 in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Study participants with jobs had much lower levels of physical disability than those without jobs, the researchers said in a journal news release. They also found that patients who completed secondary education were more likely to have professional or managerial jobs, and that educational achievement had a positive influence on job success while higher levels of disability had a negative influence.

"Further research that helps patients to determine ideal career choices and take into account their disease activity is warranted," Malviya said in the news release.

May is Arthritis Action Month in the United States.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Arthritis & Rheumatism, news release, May 31, 2012