Chronic conditions and work

Chronic conditions refer to diseases and health conditions that last a long time and generally progress slowly. Although they can occur at any age, they become more common later in life. They are often invisible, sometimes episodic (i.e. they come and go) and often characterized by fluctuating symptoms that leave people disabled one day and functional the next. Examples of chronic diseases include arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain, depression and fibromyalgia. IWH research in this area focuses on the effects of chronic disease on work participation and productivity, as well as the effectiveness of job accommodations, benefits and other programs to ensure workers with chronic disease can stay at, or return to, work.

Featured

A masked worker riding a bus
At Work article

COVID worries highest among workers with both physical, mental health disabilities

People with both physical and mental health disabilities were the most concerned about their work, health and finances during the early part of the pandemic.
Published: July 30, 2021
A masked young woman works at a hotel reception desk
At Work article

Education, type of work lessen pandemic job loss in youths with rheumatic diseases

Young adults with rheumatic diseases have generally faced greater challenges in the job market than their healthy peers. That was why an IWH research team set out to examine their work experiences during the pandemic.
Published: June 1, 2021
A masked worker riding a bus
At Work article

COVID worries highest among workers with both physical, mental health disabilities

People with both physical and mental health disabilities were the most concerned about their work, health and finances during the early part of the pandemic.
Published: July 2021
A masked young woman works at a hotel reception desk
At Work article

Education, type of work lessen pandemic job loss in youths with rheumatic diseases

Young adults with rheumatic diseases have generally faced greater challenges in the job market than their healthy peers. That was why an IWH research team set out to examine their work experiences during the pandemic.
Published: June 2021
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IWH in the media

Episodic health conditions

There's no simple "yes" or "no" answer to the question, “Should I tell my employer I have a chronic condition that sometimes makes it hard to work?” At the Institute for Work & Health, researchers have been working to develop a research-based decision-making tool. In one of the studies conducted to support the tool’s evidence base, the team explored people’s reasons for disclosing their episodic condition and found they do matter to the support they get, writes Dr. Monique Gignac.
Published: Rehab & Community Care, April 2021
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Research Highlights

Is precarious work more prevalent for people with disabilities? The role of age and job tenure

Workers with disabilities are no more likely than those without to work in precarious jobs. However, some subsets of people with disabilities are more likely to work in precarious jobs—older people or people with shorter job tenure. Contrary to expectation, younger people with disabilities are not more likely than older people with disabilities to have precarious jobs. Among people with and without disabilities, having better health is linked to a lower likelihood of working in precarious jobs.
Published: February 2021
Two women sharing a confidence at work
At Work article

People’s reasons for disclosing episodic disabilities linked to support they receive

Should people with an episodic disability disclose their condition at work? It's a complex decision. This new study looks at people's reasons for disclosing (or not) and explores whether they are linked to outcomes.
Published: February 2021
Journal article
Journal article