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Perceived need for workplace accommodation and labour force participation in Canadian adults with arthritis disability


Although reduced labour force participation is often a consequence of physical disability, little is known about the role of workplace accommodation. This study uses a conceptual model based on the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health and hypothesizes perceived need for workplace accommodation as a mediating variable between activity limitation and not in labour force.


Data from the Canadian Health and Activity Limitation Survey were used. Working-age participants (25–64 years) with arthritis disability were included. Employment status was dichotomized into 0 = in labour force (employed and unemployed), 1 = not in labour force. Two latent constructs (lower body and upper body disability) were used to represent 12 categorical physical disability indicators (e.g. difficulty in walking) and one latent construct was derived for eight workplace accommodation indicators (e.g. lack of accessible workstation, elevator or flexible hours if needed). Personal variables (age, sex, education, and occupation) were also incorporated into the model. MPLUS was used to perform the categorical factor analysis and standard error of the mean analyses.


Physical activity limitations affected labour force participation both directly and indirectly through perceived need for workplace accommodation. As people's activity limitations became severe they were more likely to perceive the need for workplace accommodation, and in turn, this lead to reduced labour force participation. Lower body activity limitations had more impact on labour force than upper body activity limitation. Older age, female gender, and low education were also associated with reduced labour force participation.


Most of the effect of arthritis-associated physical activity limitations and all on labour force participation is mediated by perceived workplace accommodation, which underscores the importance of workplace accommodation provision.

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Wang, P., Badley, E. & Gignac, M. Perceived need for workplace accommodation and labour force participation in Canadian adults with arthritis disability. Arthritis Res Ther 6 (Suppl 3), 101 (2004).

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