There is increasing evidence of the impact of SLE on employment, but few studies have had sufficient sample size and longitudinal follow-up to estimate the impact of specific manifestations or of increasing disease activity on employment.
Data derive from the UCSF Lupus Outcomes Study, a longitudinal cohort of 1204 persons with SLE sampled between 2002 and 2009. Of the 1204, 484 were working at baseline and had at least one follow-up interview. We used the Kaplan-Meier method to estimate the time between onset of thrombotic, neuropsychiatric, or musculoskeletal manifestations or of increased disease activity and work loss, and Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate the risk of work loss associated with the onset of specific manifestations, the number of manifestations, and increased activity, with and without adjustment for sociodemographic, employment, and SLE duration.
By four years of follow-up, 57%, 34%, and 38% of those with thrombotic, musculoskeletal, and neuropsychiatric manifestations, respectively, had stopped working as had 42% of those with increased disease activity. On a bivariable basis, the risk of work loss was significantly higher among persons 55–64, and those with increased disease activity and each kind of manifestation. In multivariable analysis, older age, shorter job tenure, thrombotic and musculoskeletal manifestations, greater number of manifestations, and high levels of activity increased the risk of work loss.
Incident thrombosis and musculoskeletal manifestations, multiple manifestations, and increased disease activity are associated with the risk of work loss in SLE.