Parkinson’s disease: how is employment affected?
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Rates of unemployment and early retirement are increased in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and contribute to disease burden.
To investigate time to loss of employment from PD onset and predictors of continued employment; to identify common issues and possible interventions in the workplace.
Eighty-eight patients with PD diagnosed at age ≤65 years took part in a retrospective cohort study. Veterans RAND Short Form-36 and an employment survey were administered.
Unemployment rates for males were increased compared to the general Irish population (standardized ratio of 1.6, 95 % CI 1.2–2.2, P < 0.05). There was no significant difference for females. Median retirement age was 58 years for males and 61 years for females compared to 63.5 and 65 years, respectively, in the general population. In survival analysis, median time to loss of employment was 7 years (95 % CI 4.8–9.2). After 5 years, 40 % remained working and 14 % after 10 years. Early age of PD onset (P < 0.001), early diagnosis (P < 0.002) and high scores in vitality (P < 0.005) were associated with prolonged employment. There was no association with sex, education, type or hours of work. Slowness, fatigue and tremor were the most challenging symptoms at work. Changes in work schedule and type of work were suggested helpful adjustments.
Loss of employment places a significant socioeconomic burden on young PD patients. More detailed examination of specific issues and reasonable adjustments is needed, along with patient and employer education.
KeywordsParkinson’s disease Young Socioeconomic Financial Employment
We would like to thank Prof. Leslie Daly, chairman of CSTAR, for his valuable help in writing this paper and all those who generously agreed to participate in this study.
Conflict of interest