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
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
rehab and community care logo
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
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