In the Journals

Thyroid disease diagnosis leads to work absence, disability in first year

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August 11, 2014

Once diagnosed with thyroid disease, patients are more likely to be absent from work in the year following diagnosis than subsequent years, according to research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The results of a longitudinal register study by M. A. Nexo, a PhD student in Health Sciences at Copenhagen University, Denmark, and colleagues, also showed patients with Graves’ orbitopathy (GO) have the highest risk of work disability.

Using data from Danish national registers of social benefits, health and work characteristics from 1994 to 2011, the researchers compared 862 outpatients with nontoxic goiter, hyperthyroidism, GO, autoimmune hypothyroidism or other thyroid diseases and 7,043 matched controls.

Transitions between work, long-term sickness absence, unemployment and disability pension were measured through Cox regression analyses. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for the first year after diagnosis and subsequent years.

Significant differences were seen between patients with thyroid disease and the general population for sickness absence, disability pension, return from sickness absence and unemployment.

In the year following diagnosis, higher risks for sickness absence were seen for patients diagnosed with GO (HR=6.94) and hyperthyroidism (HR=2.08); the same patients were less likely to return from sickness absence (HR=0.62) and more likely to have disability pension (HR=4.15). The probability that patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism would return from sickness absence was also lower (HR=0.62) in the first year.

In subsequent years, GO patients were at significantly higher risk for sickness absence (HR=2.08) and less likely to return from sickness absence (HR=0.51); these patients were also at greater risk for unemployment (HR=0.52) and to have disability pension (HR 4.40). Patients diagnosed with hyperthyroidism also demonstrated difficulties returning from sickness absence (HR=0.71).

Disclosures: The study was supported by the Danish Council for Strategic Research, and one researcher was funded by an unrestricted research grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.