Unemployment and work disability in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis

Unemployment and work disability in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a community-based cross-sectional study from Spain.
Castro-Marrero J1, Faro M2, Zaragozá MC3,4, Aliste L3, de Sevilla TF3, Alegre J3.
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Few reports have examined the association between unemployment and work disability in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). This study explored the key determinants of work disability in a CFS/ME cohort.

A community-based prospective study included 1086 CFS/ME patients aged 18-65 years. Demographic and clinical characteristics and outcome measures were recorded. Multiple linear regression analysis was performed to identify key risk indicators of work disability.

Four hundred and fifty patients with CFS/ME were employed (41.4%) and 636 were unemployed (58.6%). Older age at pain onset (OR: 1.44; 95% CI: 1. 12-1.84, autonomic dysfunction (OR: 2.21; 95% CI: 1.71-2.87), neurological symptom (OR: 1.66; 95% CI: 1. 30-2.13) and higher scores for fatigue (OR: 2.61; 95% CI: 2.01-3.39), pain (OR: 2.09; 95% CI: 1.47-2.97), depression (OR: 1.98; 95% CI: 1. 20-3.26), psychopathology (OR: 1.98; 95% CI: 1.51-2.61) and sleep dysfunction (OR: 1.47; 95% CI: 1. 14-1.90) were all associated with a higher risk of work disability due to illness.

Using an explanatory approach, our findings suggest that unemployment is consistently associated with an increased risk of work disability due to CFS/ME, although further more rigorous research is now needed to help in targeting interventions at the workplace.

Chronic fatigue syndrome; Comorbidity; Myalgic encephalomyelitis; Quality of life; Unemployment; Work disability
PMID: 31253111 DOI: 10.1186/s12889-019-7225-z