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

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 2, 2021
Monochrome splatter painting of a woman in distress
At Work article

Depressive symptoms in people with arthritis linked to lower employment rates

Research has shown that people with arthritis face difficulties finding work and staying at work. Now, a new study finds that when people with arthritis also have depressive symptoms, the risks of work disability are even greater.
Published: October 2, 2020
A woman works at a laundry service
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
IWH Speaker Series
IWH Speaker Series

Does it matter what workers’ reasons are for disclosing or not disclosing a disability at work? Why and how?

Deciding whether or not to disclose a disability to others at work is a complex consideration. People with many chronic mental and physical health conditions, often called episodic disabilities, experience times of relative wellness punctuated by intermittent periods of activity limitations. How do they decide whether or not to disclose their health conditions? In this presentation, Dr. Monique Gignac shares findings from her study examining participants' reasons and goals for disclosing—and whether these matter to work support outcomes.
Published: November 2020
Illustration taken from the tool
Tools and guides

Working with a rheumatic disease

This interactive tool is designed for youth and young adults with rheumatic health conditions such as juvenile arthritis or lupus as they begin their working lives. It is designed to help them identify and address the unique challenges they may face when looking for work, already working or unable to work due to their health condition.

Published: November 2020
Monochrome splatter painting of a woman in distress
At Work article

Depressive symptoms in people with arthritis linked to lower employment rates

Research has shown that people with arthritis face difficulties finding work and staying at work. Now, a new study finds that when people with arthritis also have depressive symptoms, the risks of work disability are even greater.
Published: October 2020
Monochrome splatter painting of a woman in distress
Research Highlights

Depression and work among adults with arthritis

About 13 per cent of working-age people in the U.S. who have arthritis also experience depressive symptoms. Having both arthritis and depressive symptoms lowers the likelihood of working. For people aged 35 to 54, having depressive symptoms in addition to arthritis lowers the likelihood of working by 17 per cent.
Published: October 2020