This APH sponsored project (through a Societal Participation & Health project grant) allowed AMC and VUmc researchers to collaboratively work on studying the impact of rheumatic diseases on work participation. This topic has gained interest in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. As this disease mainly strikes young women (between 20 en 40 years old), research shows that unemployment, absenteeism, and presenteeism rates are much higher compared to the general population. By identifying modifiable variables associated with reduced work participation outcomes, intervention strategies to improve work participation outcomes in patients with SLE might be developed.

This recently published systematic review assessed which variables are associated with or are predictors for work participation outcomes in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A literature search was conducted to identify all studies published from inception (1947) to June 2021 on factors related to and/or predicting employment status, absenteeism, and/or presenteeism in SLE patients aged ≥18 years. Fifteen studies (nine on associations, four on predictions, and two assessing both) were included, encompassing data of 3800 employed patients. Younger age, Caucasian ethnicity, having a higher educational level, a lower disease activity score, having childhood onset SLE, absence of specific disease manifestations, higher levels of physical functioning, and shorter time since finishing regular work, were associated with or predicted favorable work outcomes.

We recommend applying the ‘European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) Points to Consider for designing, analysing, and reporting on work participation in inflammatory arthritis’ also for SLE studies on work participation, to enhance the quality and comparability between studies and to better understand the impact of SLE on work participation.

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