Work disability among employees with diabetes: Latent class analysis of risk factors in three prospective cohort studies

Marianna Virtanen, Jussi Vahtera, Jenny Head, Rosemary Dray-Spira, Annaleena Okuloff, Adam G. Tabak, Marcel Goldberg, Jenni Ervasti, Markus Jokela, Archana Singh-Manoux, Jaana Pentti, Marie Zins, Mika Kivimäki

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Background Studies of work disability in diabetes have examined diabetes as a homogeneous disease. We sought to identify subgroups among persons with diabetes based on potential risk factors for work disability. Methods Participants were 2,445 employees with diabetes from three prospective cohorts (the Finnish Public Sector study, the GAZEL study, and the Whitehall II study). Work disability was ascertained via linkage to registers of sickness absence and disability pensions during a follow-up of 4 years. Study-specific latent class analysis was used to identify subgroups according to prevalent comorbid disease and health-risk behaviours. Study-specific associations with work disability at follow-up were pooled using fixed-effects meta-analysis. Results Separate latent class analyses for men and women in each cohort supported a two-class solution with one subgroup (total n = 1,086; 44.4%) having high prevalence of chronic somatic diseases, psychological symptoms, obesity, physical inactivity and abstinence from alcohol and the other subgroup (total n = 1,359; 55.6%) low prevalence of these factors. In the adjusted meta-analyses, participants in the 'high-risk' group had more work disability days (pooled rate ratio = 1.66, 95% CI 1.38-1.99) and more work disability episodes (pooled rate ratio = 1.33, 95% CI 1.21-1.46). These associations were similar in men and women, younger and older participants, and across occupational groups. Conclusions Diabetes is not a homogeneous disease in terms of work disability risk. Approximately half of people with diabetes are assigned to a subgroup characterised by clustering of comorbid health conditions, obesity, physical inactivity, abstinence of alcohol, and associated high risk of work disability; the other half to a subgroup characterised by a more favourable risk profile.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0143184
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Virtanen, M., Vahtera, J., Head, J., Dray-Spira, R., Okuloff, A., Tabak, A. G., Goldberg, M., Ervasti, J., Jokela, M., Singh-Manoux, A., Pentti, J., Zins, M., & Kivimäki, M. (2015). Work disability among employees with diabetes: Latent class analysis of risk factors in three prospective cohort studies. PloS one, 10(11), [e0143184].