Preventing work disability among millennial young adults with rheumatic disease

Reasons for the study

Despite advances in clinical care, millennial young adults living with rheumatic disease continue to report trouble finding employment and staying productive at work. Previous research suggests that workplace policies and practices play an important role in overcoming these challenges, but because research focuses primarily on older adults, it is unclear if young adults who are just beginning their careers have the same needs or access to workplace support. This project examines the workplace support needs of young adults with rheumatic disease, describes the supports that are available and used within the workplace, and investigates whether unmet workplace support needs predict subsequent work disability.

Objectives of the study

  • To conduct a longitudinal survey of 365-plus millennials with rheumatic disease
  • To identify workplace supports needed by millennials with rheumatic disease, to what extent these supports are available and used, and whether those millennials with rheumatic disease who do not have their support needs met at work are more likely to indicate difficulties with employment
  • To examine how the characteristics of millennials with rheumatic disease, including their health and work conditions, relate to unmet workplace support needs, and whether they affect the relationship between unmet workplace support needs and difficulties with employment

Target audience

The results of this study will help employers, clinicians and policy-makers develop strategies that will assist millennials with rheumatic disease transition into the world of work and help them remain employed and productive.

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Project status


Research team

  • Arif Jetha, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Julie Bowring, Institute for Work & Health
  • Monique Gignac, Institute for Work & Health
  • Catherine Backman, University of British Columbia
  • Vicki Kristman, Lakehead University
  • Lori Tucker, University of British Columbia

Collaborators and partners

Arthritis Society
Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance
Cassie + Friends

Funded by

Arthritis Society Operating Grant