Duration: 01 October 2021 - 28 February 2022
Funder: Wellcome Trust Insitutional Strategic Support Fund
Chief investigator: Dr LaKrista Morton
Other co-investigators: Dr Rosemary Hollick, Professor Gary Macfarlane
Musculoskeletal conditions affect around 1 in 3 of Scotland’s population and can have a substantial impact on people’s ability to work. The Making it Work™ programme in Canada has been successful in supporting people with inflammatory arthritis to stay in employment for as long as they wish to do so. The UNIQUE study was key piece of preparatory work in extending the scope and reach of the Making it Work™ programme as part of the Making it Work™ - Scotland study. Through a series of telephone interviews with people with non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions, we identified key issues that are important to people working with non-inflammatory conditions, and this information was used as a springboard to begin tailoring the Making it Work™ programme to the Scottish population and healthcare system, over a wider range of musculoskeletal conditions.
- What was the background to this study?
Musculoskeletal conditions affect around 1 in 3 of the Scottish population. These conditions have a substantial impact on people’s ability to work, and can put individuals at risk of leaving the workforce altogether. Despite this, few programmes exist to support people with musculoskeletal conditions to stay in work. We identified an effective online programme developed in Canada called Making it Work™ which supports individuals working with inflammatory arthritis to stay in work for as long as they wish to do so. Our ultimate goal is to adapt this programme via the Making it Work™ - Scotland study so that it is relevant for people in the UK and so that it is relevant for people working with both inflammatory and non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions.
The goal of the UNIQUE study was provide key perspectives on this future work by examining any specific impacts experienced by people with non-inflammatory conditions.
- What did this study aim to do?
This study aimed to understand the key social, psychological and functional impacts of non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions and chronic musculoskeletal pain on work. This information helped to inform ongoing adaptations being made to the Making it Work™ programme via the Making it Work™ - Scotland study so that it can improve the working lives of individuals in the UK with both inflammatory and non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions.
We did this by gathering individual accounts on how people's pain impacts their working life (including transitions such as decisions to change jobs or modify their existing work patterns), and gained their perspective on which impacts, if addressed, would have the greatest effect on work participation.
- What did this research involve?
The research consisted of a series of virtual interviews to gather the perspectives of people with a variety of non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions such as fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. We advertised the study publicly and via clinicans, and people who were interested in taking part completed a short screening questionnaire to allow us to assess their eligibility to take part in an interview.
We interviewed 15 people for the study, and asked them questions about their condition, working life, and the impact of their pain on their ability to work. Each interview lasted around 45 minutes, and was typed up by a transcription service and data was then analysed to assess themes emerging across all of our conversations.
- How will this research benefit patients and society?
The Making it Work™ programme has been successful in Canada in supporting people with inflammatory arthritis to stay in work for as long as they wish to. This not only has obvious economic benefits for society and the individual, but participation in working life is also known to have many personal and social benefits. Findings from this study will help us get a clearer picture of the challenges to working life in the UK for people with non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions. Ultimately, this information will help us to effectively adapt the Making it Work™ programme for this country’s specific health and social care context and for people with a broader range of musculoskeletal conditions.
- Who funded this study?
This study was funded by the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund.
- Participant information sheet
You can view the study Participant Information Sheet*, which contains further details about this research and what participation involved, here.
* (Version 2, 22nd July 2021)
- Contact details