Dutch researchers have initiated a study to determine the cost-effectiveness of a workplace intervention program for employees with rheumatoid arthritis.
While strategies previously have been devised to enhance work productivity for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), such programs have not been implemented at workplaces in the Netherlands. The study, scheduled to deliver results in 2015, will be a randomized controlled trial conducted at rheumatology treatment centers in and around Amsterdam.
At least 142 RA patients, aged 18 to 64 years, are expected to be recruited for the intervention group and controls. Eligibility will be based on patients having visited a rheumatologist at participating hospitals in the past year, having a paid job for at least 8 hours per week and having experienced difficulties in performing job duties.
Patients in the intervention cohort also will take part in a two-component program: integrated care with a clinical occupational physician acting as care manager, and participatory workplace intervention guided by occupational therapists who will work in problem-solving with the patients and their supervisors.
Questionnaires will be completed at baseline and at 6 and 12 months. Researchers said the primary outcome measure will be work productivity, measured by hours lost from work because of presenteeism, defined as being on the job but being unable to function fully. Additional outcome measures will include sick leave, quality of life, pain and fatigue. The program’s cost-effectiveness will be evaluated from a “societal perspective,” with costs and benefits measured independently of those who bear the costs and receive the benefits.
“By integrating both aspects of health care, one treatment goal will be formed, namely improving work productivity,” the researchers said.