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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 1/2018

Work impairment, osteoarthritis, and health-related quality of life among employees in Japan

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes > Ausgabe 1/2018
Ken Nakata, Toshinaga Tsuji, Jeffrey Vietri, Dena H. Jaffe



Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common causes of health and work impairment; however, this relationship, especially in Japan, is not well characterized. This study examined work impairment and OA in Japanese workers, specifically the relationship with health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and health status.


This retrospective, cross-sectional observational study included the data of employed adults with a self-reported OA diagnosis from the 2014 Japan National Health and Wellness Survey. Presenteeism and absenteeism were classified using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment (WPAI) questionnaire for impairment at work in the past week. Outcome variables included health-related quality of life, which was measured with the revised Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Survey Instrument Health Survey (SF-36v2), and depression symptom severity, which was assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).


The majority (71.2%) of respondents with OA reported presenteeism, and 11.1% reported absenteeism. Presenteeism and absenteeism were both associated with younger age; a lower proportion of respondents with than without presenteeism were married or living with a partner, and a greater proportion of those with absenteeism had comorbid conditions (for all, p < 0.05). Respondents with than without presenteeism reported greater use of medications to relieve OA symptoms (37.3% versus 20.9%, p < 0.05), and those with than without absenteeism reported more frequent arthritis-related problems (p = 0.032). Among those with presenteeism, depression severity was higher (5.8 ± 6.0) than for those with no presenteeism (2.9 ± 4.3; p < 0.001). Presenteeism was associated with impairments in HRQoL on all metrics for patients with OA, with lower mental (6.4 points) and physical (4.8 points) component scores on the SF-36v2 (for all, p < 0.001).


Seven out of every 10 patients with OA experienced presenteeism, whereas one out of 10 reported absenteeism. OA respondents with presenteeism also showed greater medication use, lower HRQoL across both mental and physical components, and higher depression severity. Workplace interventions and effective treatment options are necessary strategies for improving the health of workers with OA in Japan.
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