Brief Counseling May Help People with Muscle and Joint Conditions Stay Employed

Muscle and joint conditions such as arthritis, lupus, or fibromyalgia may result in long-lasting pain and disability. According to recent studies, people with those conditions may have difficulty keeping jobs if their symptoms make it hard to get to and from work or to perform work-related activities, such as walking, standing, or bending. They may also encounter physical barriers in the workplace, such as stairs or heavy doors, or policy barriers such as inflexible leave policies. Past research has found that up to a third of working people with arthritis report having limitations at work, and nearly half of people with arthritis and other muscle and joint conditions are unemployed within 10 years of being diagnosed. However, with accommodations and supports, people with muscle and joint conditions can remain productive workers. In a recent NIDILRR-funded study, researchers tested a brief counseling program for people with muscle and joint conditions wishing to stay employed. The researchers wanted to find out if the counseling program led to less job loss or missed workdays over a two-year period, compared with simply giving people written employment resources.