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Patients With Juvenile Arthritis May Face Employment Issues as Adults

Patients With Juvenile Arthritis May Face Employment Issues as Adults

Disability resulting from juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) may adversely affect the ability of children to achieve educational success as they grow into adulthood. Study findings published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, an American College of Rheumatology journal, suggest that functional disability affects educational attainment, a key to successful employment in adulthood.

To investigate the dependency between employment and educational achievement in adult patients who had JIA, researchers recruited 103 patients who were treated at the musculoskeletal unit at the Freeman Hospital in the United Kingdom (median age, 24 years; median disease duration, 19 years). The patients were surveyed about educational achievement and employment status and completed the Health Assessment Questionnaire to measure functional disability.

Functional disability was significantly lower in employed patients and in those with oligoarticular JIA. Educational achievement was not influenced by JIA subtype (oligoarticular, polyarticular rheumatoid factor [RF]-positive, polyarticular RF-negative, systemic, or others). Patients who received their secondary education certificate had greater success later in life, obtaining more professional or managerial jobs. Job stability was influenced positively by educational achievement and negatively by the disability score.

Studies have shown that early, aggressive treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, such as methotrexate, or tumor necrosis factor α inhibitors can improve long-term outcomes for patients with JIA, it was noted, but in spite of such treatment, some patients with JIA enter adulthood with joint damage, disability, and lowered quality of life. The researchers recommended further research that helps patients determine ideal career choices and takes their disease activity into account.

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