Multimorbidity and exit from paid employment: the effect of specific combinations of chronic health conditions

Gabriel S. Gurgel do Amaral, Patricia Ots, Sandra Brouwer, Sander K. R. van Zon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background This study aimed to assess the association between multimorbidity and exit from paid employment, and which combinations of chronic health conditions (CHCs) have the strongest association with exit from paid employment. Methods Data from 111 208 workers aged 18-64 years from Lifelines were enriched with monthly employment data from Statistics Netherlands. Exit from paid employment during follow-up was defined as a change from paid employment to unemployment, disability benefits, economic inactivity or early retirement. CHCs included cardiovascular diseases (CVD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and depression. Cox-proportional hazards models were used to examine the impact of multimorbidity and combinations of CHCs on exit from paid employment. Results Multimorbidity increased the risk of exiting paid employment compared with workers without CHCs (hazard ratio (HR): 1.52; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.35-1.71) or one CHC (HR: 1.14; 95% CI: 1.01-1.28). The risk for exit from paid employment increased among workers with COPD if they additionally had CVD (HR: 1.39; 95% CI: 1.03-1.88), depression (HR: 1.46; 95% CI: 1.10-1.93) or RA (HR: 1.44; 95% CI: 1.08-1.91), for workers with T2DM if they additionally had CVD (HR: 1.43; 95% CI: 1.07-1.91) or depression (HR: 2.09; 95% CI: 1.51-2.91) and for workers with depression who also had T2DM (HR: 1.68; 95% CI: 1.21-2.32). Conclusion This study showed that workers with multimorbidity, especially having a combination of COPD and depression or T2DM and depression, have a higher risk for early exit from paid employment and, therefore, may need tailored support at the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-397
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date7-Mar-2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2022


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