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Experiences of employment amongst young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: a qualitative study

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JournalDisability and rehabilitation
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Apr 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 13 May 2017
Early online date13/05/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Purpose: This study explored expectations and experiences of employment amongst young
people with JIAjuvenile idiopathic arthritis, and the role of health professionals in promoting
positive employment outcomes.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews (n=13) and three focus groups (n=9,n=4,n=3) were
conducted with young people (16-25y) and adults (26-31y) with juvenile idiopathic arthritis JIA
and semi-structured interviews (n=9) were conducted with health professionals. Transcripts were
analysed thematically.
Results: Young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritisJIA have concerns about employers’
attitudes towards employees with long-term health conditions and lack knowledge of antidiscrimination
legislation. Young people not in education, employment or training identify
arthritisJIA as a key barrier. Challenges associated with JIA arthritis (e.g. pain, psychological
distress) may not be visible to employers. Decisions about disclosing arthritisJIA are challenging
and cause anxiety. Young people associate good disease management and access to flexible and
convenient care with their capacity to succeed in employment. Psycho-social and vocational
interventions have benefited some young people, but are not routinely available.
Conclusions: Low expectations of employers may affect young people’s decisions about
disclosure and seeking appropriate support in the work place. Health professionals can equip
young people with knowledge and skills to negotiate appropriate support, through signposting to Young people, employment and arthritis. 2
anti-discrimination information and offering practice of transferable skills such as disclosure in
consultations.

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