Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the employment of Canadian young adults with rheumatic disease: longitudinal survey findings

Publication type
Journal article
Jetha A, Tucker L, Chen C, Gignac MA
Date published
2021 May 01
Arthritis Care and Research
Open Access?

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has had considerable economic repercussions for young workers. We examine the impact of the pandemic on the employment of young adults with rheumatic disease and on perceptions of work and health. METHODS: Surveys were administered to young adults with rheumatic disease prior to and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Surveys asked about employment status and collected information on sociodemographic, disease/health and work context factors. Items also asked about the perceived impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on work and health. A generalized estimating equation was fitted to examine the effect of the pandemic on employment. RESULTS: 133 young adults completed the pre-COVID-19 pandemic survey (mean age=28.9 years; 82% women). When compared to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic period, employment decreased from 86% to 71% following the pandemic, but no other changes were identified to sociodemographic, disease/health or work context factors. The time period following the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a 83% lower odds of employment compared to the pre-pandemic period (OR=.28, 95%CI=0.11, 0.71). Those with a post-secondary education or who reported more mental job demands were more likely to be employed following the pandemic. Also, a majority of participants reported that the pandemic affected health care (83%), treatment access (54%), working conditions (92%) and occupational health and safety (74%). CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic had socioeconomic implications for young people with rheumatic disease. To support economic recovery for people with rheumatic disease, strategies to promote employment should be designed that also account for the young adult life phase and occupational characteristics