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Stephen  Bevan

Early intervention keeps Phil on course

Authors: Stephen Bevan Stephen Bevan

18 August 2010

The news that World No 2 golfer Phil Mickelson has been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis brings into sharp relief the importance of the early diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory conditions if people are to stand the best chance of living normal lives and staying in work.

While the signs are that Phil Mickelson has been able to get access to diagnosis and treatment in good time, and that he has been able to keep playing golf at the highest level, for others with inflammatory disease the story isn’t always so positive.

The Work Foundation’s Fit for Work initiative has examined some of the literature on psoriatic arthritis and found that up to 33 % of PsA patients reported losing their jobs as a result of their condition. Moreover, a survey conducted in the UK by the Psoriatic Arthropathy Alliance (PAA) – now the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (Papaa) – found that 27 per cent of their members with PsA had experienced ‘job discrimination’ as a result of their condition.

But there is evidence that vocational rehabilitation interventions which focus on job retention among workers with rheumatic conditions – including PsA and ankylosing spondylitis – can protect against job loss. These interventions, which concentrated on supporting job accommodation, vocational counselling and self-advocacy, were found to be effective in promoting job retention 3-5 years after they were initiated.

The Fit for Work initiative is continuing to campaign for earlier clinical and workplace interventions to enable those who develop these conditions to remain in or return to work.

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