January 02, 2020
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Unemployment, missing work due to illness more likely with diabetes

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Mette Nexø

Adults with diabetes may be more likely to be out sick from work for long periods or be unemployed vs. those without diabetes, according to findings from a Danish registry study published in Diabetic Medicine.

“Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the labor force,” Mette Nexø, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow of health promotion research at Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen in Gentofte, Denmark, told Healio. “Evaluating risks of labor market outcomes can help tailor future strategies to prevent and manage individual and societal consequences of diabetes-related work disability.”

Nexø and colleagues assessed data from the Danish Register-based Evaluation of Marginalization from 431 adults with type 1 diabetes (72.2% women), 4,047 adults with type 2 diabetes (61.6% women) and 101,295 adults without diabetes (73.8% women). All participants were aged 20 to 59 years. The data included instances between 1994 and 2011 in which participants were out of work for 4 weeks or more due to illness or unemployment, returned to work from being sick or unemployed or began receiving disability pension.

Compared with adults without diabetes of any kind, the risk for missing work due to illness was increased by 43% for men with type 1 diabetes (HR = 1.43; 95% CI, 1.01-2.03), 64% for men with type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.64; 95% CI, 1.46-1.85), 34% for women with type 1 diabetes (HR = 1.34; 95% CI, 1.12-1.62) and 46% for women with type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.46; 95% CI, 1.35-1.58). In addition, the researchers noted that there was a 9% reduction in the likelihood of returning to work after an illness among women with type 2 diabetes vs. those without diabetes (HR = 0.91; 95% CI, 0.86-0.98).

Diabetes Words 2019 
Adults with diabetes may be more likely to be out sick from work for long periods or be unemployed vs. those without diabetes.
Source: Adobe Stock

In terms of unemployment, the risk for becoming unemployed was increased by 25% for men with type 1 diabetes (HR = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.01-1.53), by 17% for men with type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.17; 95% CI, 1.08-1.27) and by 9% for women with type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.09; 95% CI, 1.03-1.16) compared with adults without diabetes. In addition, the researchers noted that there was an 11% reduction in the likelihood of returning to work after being unemployed among women with type 2 diabetes (HR = 0.89; 95% CI, 0.85-0.94).

For those who were unemployed, the risk for being unable to work due to illness was increased by 62% for men with type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.35-1.94) and for women with type 1 diabetes (HR = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.16-2.25) and by 33% for women with type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.33; 95% CI, 1.15-1.53) compared with adults without diabetes. The risk for going on disability pension was increased by 209% for men with type 1 diabetes (HR = 2.09; 95% CI, 1.38-3.18), by 211% for men with type 2 diabetes (HR = 2.11; 95% CI, 1.86-2.4), by 109% for women with type 1 diabetes (HR = 1.9; 95% CI, 1.46-2.46) and by 178% for women with type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.78; 95% CI, 1.62-1.96) compared with adults without diabetes. 

“People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have elevated risk of a wide range of temporary and permanent labor market outcomes,” Nexø said. “Work is where we spent most of the waking hours. It is an important aspect of quality of life and is an important setting for diabetes management. The risks of adverse labor market outcomes highlight the need to help individuals manage temporary and permanent disability at work.” – by Phil Neuffer

For more information:

Mette Nexø, PhD, can be reached at mette.andersen.nexoe@regionh.dk.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.