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

Long shadows cast by a row of workers
At Work article

Study probes factors behind poorer health, lower employment in injured workers’ post-claim experience

What are the work and health outcomes of injured workers after they no longer receive workers' compensation benefits or services? A study at IWH sets out to explore this little understood aspect of the post-injury experience.
Published: November 23, 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 30, 2021
IWH Speaker Series
IWH Speaker Series

What do workplaces need to know to help older workers stay on the job? A qualitative study of older workers’ disclosure decisions

Historic labour shortages are affecting every Canadian job sector. Many workers aged 50 years or more want to work longer, often beyond the traditional retirement age. However, we understand little about the different workplace support needs they may have and whether workers choose to share their needs with others—especially given the negative stereotypes that often surround older workers. In this presentation, Dr. Monique Gignac shares insights from her study on older workers’ workplace support needs and disclosure decisions. She highlights how workplaces can help older workers stay on the job, regardless of whether they disclose their needs.
Published: September 2022
A young worker at her computer workstation holds her shoulder and neck in pain
Research Highlights

Examining the link between job insecurity, work limitations and persistent symptoms among young adults with rheumatic disease

Young adults with rheumatic disease who reported high work activity limitations were also more likely to report persistent high levels of pain, fatigue and active rheumatic disease symptoms. Those who experienced job insecurity were more likely to report persistent pain and active disease symptoms. That's according to an IWH follow-up study conducted over 27 months.
Published: August 2022
Journal article
Journal article

Workers' activity profiles associated with predicted 10-year cardiovascular disease risk

Published: Journal of the American Heart Association, June 2022
IWH in the media
IWH in the media

Rethinking Pain - A CRAM Ideas Podcast episode

Why do we feel pain long after an injury has healed? Do I feel pain differently than you? How does culture affect our perception of pain? And what’s the most effective way to treat the pain that doesn’t stop? CRAM Ideas host Mary Ito speaks with Dr. Andrea Furlan, a leading expert on pain.
Published: March 2022
Journal article
Journal article

Occupational exposure to wood dust and the burden of nasopharynx and sinonasal cancer in Canada

Published: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, January 2022
Long shadows cast by a row of workers
At Work article

Study probes factors behind poorer health, lower employment in injured workers’ post-claim experience

What are the work and health outcomes of injured workers after they no longer receive workers' compensation benefits or services? A study at IWH sets out to explore this little understood aspect of the post-injury experience.
Published: November 2021
Canadian Occupational Safety logo
IWH in the media

How workplaces can support staff with MS

Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple scleroris and employers need to do more to accommodate, according to Julie Kelndorfer of MS Society of Canada. Maia Foulis interviews her about what workplaces can do to be safe and welcoming to people with the condition, and why the society is a partner on an Institute for Work & Health research project on communicating about episodic disability.
Published: Canadian Occupational Safety, September 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
The Province logo
IWH in the media

Re-opening the economy should include access for young people with chronic disease

Young workers who are immunocompromised will need employers to continue to enforce COVID-19-prevention strategies. And paid sick leave will remain a priority to prevent workers from coming to work with COVID-19 symptoms, writes IWH's Dr. Arif Jetha in an op-ed.
Published: The Province, June 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