Employment and chronic non-cancer pain: insights into work retention and loss

Stella Howden, Derek Jones, Denis Martin, Maggie Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To explore the work experiences of three individuals who have chronic non-cancer pain and to identify factors which may affect their ability to remain in employment.

METHODS: Three cases were selected from a data set of six, to illustrate distinct employment history scenarios. All participants had a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Data was gathered using semi-structured, in-depth interviews that were audiotaped and later transcribed for qualitative, content analysis. Themes identified were those which related to employment experiences and appeared to be important factors influencing the retention of work.

FINDINGS: Four main themes were identified: the nature of physical barriers to employment, autonomy at work, social networks, and the importance and motivation to remain in employment.

CONCLUSION: These findings support existing research in relation to chronic pain and employment in general and expands upon the nature and importance of social support at work. It is suggested that the qualitative methodology illustrated here, which explores the perspectives of those still in employment (as well as those who have stopped working) may be a useful approach to investigating this important area of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-204
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid
  • Chronic Disease
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain

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