Objective: To summarise the methodological aspects in studies with work participation (WP) as outcome domain in inflammatory arthritis (IA) and other chronic diseases.
Methods: Two systematic literature reviews (SLRs) were conducted in key electronic databases (2014-2019): search 1 focused on longitudinal prospective studies in IA and search 2 on SLRs in other chronic diseases. Two reviewers independently identified eligible studies and extracted data covering pre-defined methodological areas.
Results: In total, 58 studies in IA (22 randomised controlled trials, 36 longitudinal observational studies) and 24 SLRs in other chronic diseases were included. WP was the primary outcome in 26/58 (45%) studies. The methodological aspects least accounted for in IA studies were as follows (proportions of studies positively adhering to the topic are shown): aligning the studied population (16/58 (28%)) and sample size calculation (8/58 (14%)) with the work-related study objective; attribution of WP to overall health (28/58 (48%)); accounting for skewness of presenteeism/sick leave (10/52 (19%)); accounting for work-related contextual factors (25/58 (43%)); reporting attrition and its reasons (1/58 (2%)); reporting both aggregated results and proportions of individuals reaching predefined meaningful change or state (11/58 (16%)). SLRs in other chronic diseases confirmed heterogeneity and methodological flaws identified in IA studies without identifying new issues.
Conclusion: High methodological heterogeneity was observed in studies with WP as outcome domain. Consensus around various methodological aspects specific to WP studies is needed to improve quality of future studies. This review informs the EULAR Points to Consider for conducting and reporting studies with WP as an outcome in IA.
Keywords: ankylosing; arthritis; health care; outcome assessment; psoriatic; rheumatoid; spondylitis.