The risk of work disability is increased for people with diabetes due to the presence of one or more mental, musculoskeletal and circulatory disease, according to a new study.
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health evaluated 14,098 newly diagnosed diabetes patients between the ages of 25 and 59 – the vast majority of participants are likely to have had type 2 diabetes. They were then compared to a random sample of 39,056 adults without diabetes.
A four-year follow-up of work absences between 2007 and 2010 due to sickness and disability pension days were taken from the National Social Insurance Agency.
Mental disorders were the most common cause of work disability among the diabetes and non-diabetes group. Diabetes was rarely used as a reason for missing work.
Overall, adults with diabetes lost an average of 30.5 days per year due to mental disorders, while this figure dropped slightly to 29.4 days a year from musculoskeletal diseases. Respectively, these figures fell to 12.5 and 11.4 days in the non-diabetes group.
An average of 9.3 per days a year was lost by diabetes patients due to disease of the circulatory system. This compared to 1.3 days per year among those without diabetes.
The Finnish researchers wrote: “This study demonstrates that diabetes is associated with higher levels of work disability owing to comorbid diseases, particularly mental disorders, musculoskeletal diseases and circulatory disease.”
Socioeconomic disadvantage was also observed to be a risk factor that must be noted, according to the researchers. They added: “The most vulnerable groups were found among individuals who had mental or musculoskeletal disorders and lived alone, were immigrants or were single parents.
“For the management of diabetes and the prevention of work disability among people with diabetes, it is highly important to monitor comorbid conditions and pay attention to the most vulnerable socioeconomic groups.”

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