Exploring the perceptions of how living with osteoarthritis affects employed people’s work productivity

Short title: WORKing with osteoarthrITis (WORK-IT) Study


Even though osteoarthritis (OA) is common in the older population, the early stages of OA can start when people are still employed (e.g. <65 years old). A concern for younger adults living with OA is their ability to maintain work duties (such as repetitive kneeling, heavy lifting, typing, standing for long periods of time), as joint pain and activity limitations can make these tasks difficult. We know that physical work demands (such as repetitive movements), psychosocial work demands (such as time pressures and task requirements), limited workplace support, and early retirement can have a negative impact on work participation in people living with OA. However, currently we do not fully understand the progression of OA and why/how certain factors impact work participation in those with OA who are employed. Considering the current increase in the occurrence of OA (due to an ageing population and an increase in obesity), and with the increase of retirement age in the UK this issue requires more attention. Additionally, previous research has identified the importance of workplace, co-worker, and employer support for people living with OA in terms of their work adaptations and receiving assistance with their role to support people to stay in employment and work productively. Hence, there is an additional need to explore employers’ understanding of OA and the workplace policies to support employees with OA to stay in employment. Therefore, the goals of this study are:
  • To explore and understand how OA impacts work participation, work adaptation, and workplace support in people living with OA.
  • To explore employers’ understanding of OA and the workplace policies to support employees with OA.
This study is funded by the Arthritis Research UK-MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work. This study is organised by researchers at the University of Salford and has been reviewed and given a favourable opinion by the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Salford.


Working people with OA:

We are asking people to take part if they meet the following criteria:

  • Clinician-diagnosed osteoarthritis (e.g. from a GP, Rheumatologist, MSK First Point Practitioner [Physiotherapist/ Occupational Therapists/ Nurses], Advanced Practitioner)
  • Osteoarthritis being the main condition that is affecting your work
  • Have activity-related joint pain
  • Age 18 or over
  • Currently in paid employment/self-employed at least 1 day a week or you may be on be on short-term (≤4 weeks) or long-term (≥4 weeks) sickness leave due to OA
  • Have been employed in your current job for at least 6 months
  • Live in the UK
  • Can understand/communicate in English.

Employers/ Line Managers of people with OA:

  • Role of manager/supervisor or above in the company/organisation/or working in the Human Resources (HR) department within a company/organisation
  • Have been employed for at least 6 months in your current job
  • 18 years old or over
  • Currently in paid employment at least 1 day a week
  • Manages a business in the UK
  • Live in the UK
  • Can understand/communicate in English.

Please contact/ follow us on Twitter @WORKITStudy