This study aimed to assess work productivity, identify associated factors, and evaluate the economic burden of systemic sclerosis (SSc) in a multi‐ethnic Asian population. Associations between demographic and disease characteristics and unemployment status, work productivity loss, and activity impairment was examined using logistic and linear regression analyses, as appropriate. Costs of unemployment and work productivity loss were estimated using the human capital approach.
Of 111 patients with a mean disease duration of 9.1 years, 33 (29.7%) were unemployed. Their mean age at unemployment was 44.2 years, equating to 22.8 years of lost employment. Of 78 employed and 33 unemployed patients, 37 (47.4%) and 19 (57.6%) reported activity impairment, accounting for 42.2% and 50.0% of the preceding week, respectively. Presence of hyperlipidemia (coefficient= ‐18.56, p<0.01) was associated with activity impairment in multivariable analysis. The annual cost of unemployment and work productivity loss was estimated to be SGD 53,244 and SGD 13,045 per patient, respectively.
In conclusion, SSc imposes significant unemployment and work productivity loss and causes a substantial economic burden to both affected individuals and society. Modifying the identified factors associated with unemployment and work productivity loss may reduce the burden of SSc.