Frequent chronic diseases in the workplace: brief descriptions and suggestions

In order to improve productivity, wellness and inclusiveness, it is of paramount importance for a company to be informed about what having a chronic disease means for a person, and to be trained to handle the issue of having an employee with such a condition.

Several illnesses can occur during a lifetime and especially during working age and each one of these should be equally considered. The following Appendix presents some brief case vignettes and fact sheets on the most frequent chronic diseases that might be encountered in the workplace. The diseases presented in this list (e.g., neurological, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic disorders) has dramatically increased in recent decades, affecting all sectors, including the social and economic aspects of the work sector and have been selected according to the Global Burden of Disease study that identifies the most common chronic diseases in Europe in people of working age. The diseases selected are thus to be intended only as examples, and the appendix makes no claim to be exhaustive.

Each factsheet is composed of a case vignette and of the following 4 sections:

  • a BRIEF DEFINITION of the disease
  • the SYMPTOMS that typically characterize the disease, while considering that there may be notable individual differences
  • TREATMENTS used, which can be long-lasting or necessary only for certain periods (treatment cycles)
  • PSYCHOSOCIAL ISSUES AND IMPACT OF THE DISEASE ON EMPLOYMENT: key advices that can help to improve the quality of the workplace and the participation and work ability of workers with chronic diseases

The aim of these factsheets is to give the employer a quick framework of various diseases of which some of the workers may suffer, and some suggestions for managing them at best in the workplace.

If enabled to and if they wish to, people with a well-managed chronic disease are often able to continue working for years after diagnosis.
Good management of people with chronic disease provides benefits for the company, as well as for employees.

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