Workplace Accommodation for Persons With IBD: What Is Needed and What Is Accessed

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Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS:

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often experience periods of illness that interfere with their ability to work. We aimed to understand the need for workplace accommodation during periods of acute illness among persons IBD.

METHODS:

Participants were recruited from the population-based University of Manitoba Research Registry and received a survey including questions assessing experiences with workplace accommodations. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression modelling.

RESULTS:

A total of 1143 individuals responded to the survey (46% response rate), of whom 881 had experienced IBD symptoms in the workplace and were included in the analysis. The mean age was 48.3 years (standard deviation, 10.9); 61% were female. Mean IBD duration was 20.6 years (standard deviation, 10.5). Most respondents (73%) described IBD symptoms experienced in the workplace as severe to very severe. The most commonly required accommodations were time to go to medical appointments during working hours (81%), easy access to a toilet (71%), and a chance to take a break when not feeling well (54%). Most accommodations were arranged informally or through a supervisor. The accommodations required were very or somewhat easy to arrange about half the time. Being female, having high symptom severity, and high level of current distress were associated with a need for more accommodations, difficulty implementing accommodations, and not asking for needed accommodations.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study provides important information as to the types of accommodations that are necessary, common practices arranging for these, and level of difficulty arranging accommodations. Furthermore, characteristics associated with greater need for accommodation, reluctance to ask for them, and difficulty in arranging them were identified.

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