Sunday, June 28, 2009

Age, Education Affect Post-Sick Leave Transition to Disability

Twenty percent of Norwegian group with two-month work absence later went on disability

28 june 2009-- In adults with musculoskeletal disorders who had a lengthy sickness-related work absence, their age, diagnosis, and socioeconomic factors predicted their transition to disability pension in following years, according to research published in the June 15 issue of Spine.

Sturla Gjesdal, M.D., of the University of Bergen in Norway, and colleagues analyzed data from more than 60,000 individuals with musculoskeletal disorders who had an episode of sickness absence lasting more than eight weeks in 1997. Participants were followed up for five years to track their transition to disability pension.

The researchers found that 20 percent overall obtained disability pension during follow-up. Compared to fractures and injuries, relative risk of disability pension was higher for rheumatoid arthritis (4.2), myalgia/fibromyalgia (3.3), osteoarthrosis (2.8), and back problems (2.0). The authors further note that age most strongly predicted disability pension, followed by education and income.

"The study showed that the long-term prognosis differed substantially between subgroups of musculoskeletal disorders. This points to the need to go beyond the general label musculoskeletal, when the risk of permanent disability among sickness absentees is studied," the authors write. "The estimates in this article for Norwegians on sick leave cannot be directly generalized to the United States, but the main results regarding diagnostic and social risks may have a bearing on cases with similar medical conditions, who meet the Social Security Disability Insurance earnings criteria."

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