The newly released materials make it easier for employers to support employees with OA, by providing tools and resources to help create an arthritis-friendly workplace and encourage engagement in self-management strategies.
Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is a serious disease affecting 1 in 7 U.S. adults. Over half of adults with OA are of working age (18–64 years old). OA can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling, which may limit mobility and function and interfere with daily activities and work tasks such as writing or typing, standing or sitting for long periods, bending and walking, or going up and down stairs.
The personal and economic burden of OA is significant, and the effects are felt by individuals with OA, their families, employers, and communities. OA is one of the most common causes of work loss and absenteeism. The good news is that there are strategies to help prevent and manage OA.
The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance (OAAA) collaborated with Pfizer to update and expand OACareTools, an online toolkit that aims to reduce the burden of this painful and costly disease. OACareTools contains 21 NEW tools and resources customized for three primary groups:
- Employer representatives such as business leaders, benefits/wellness consultants, human resource representatives, and occupational health providers.
- Healthcare providers in primary care, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, physical/occupational therapists, sports medicine professionals, athletic trainers, and fitness professionals.
- Adults and employees with osteoarthritis.
Employer representatives can help reduce the burden of OA by expanding their knowledge of OA and its management; implementing arthritis-friendly benefit plans, workplace policies, and wellness and safety initiatives; and sharing resources with employees. OACareTools contains nine self-paced educational modules to expand employers’ knowledge of OA and help them support adults with arthritis in self-management strategies. OACareTools also includes customized tools and resources, such as:
- OA facts & figures – Employer representatives can gain knowledge of OA signs and symptoms, workplace risks, management and prevention strategies, and financial costs.
- Arthritis-inclusive workplaces – Employer representatives can learn how to reduce the economic and personal burden of OA through benefit plan designs, workplace policies and programs, and wellness and safety initiatives that are based on recommended treatment strategies.
- OA prevention – Employer representatives can discover strategies to help employees manage both OA and body weight, two interconnected conditions.
Employer representatives should visit www.oacaretools.org for a complete listing and description of resources. In addition, the Adult and Employee page (https://unc.live/3KSo1EJ) lists resources that employers can make available to their employees. A few examples of employee resources include:
- Osteoarthritis in the workplace – Employers can display a poster showing an overview of OA, what the workplace risks of OA are, and how OA can be managed within the workplace.
- OA signs and symptoms – Employers can share a video and postcard with employees to provide information about OA and tips for managing joint pain in the workplace.
- Evidence-based programs – This handout helps employees learn about physical activity and self-management education programs that may be available in their community for adults with OA.
- Getting started with physical activity – This worksheet includes recommendations and guidance to help employees develop their own physical activity plans.
About the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance (OAAA)
The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance is a national public health coalition, comprised of more than 140 member organizations, that aims to reduce the burden of OA in the U.S. through dissemination of educational tools, resources, and health messaging to increase awareness for OA and to promote evidence-based prevention and management strategies. Injury prevention (e.g., sports injury prevention, falls prevention, etc.), weight management, physical activity, and self-management education are proven strategies for the prevention and management of OA and are major areas of focus of the OAAA. To learn more about the OAAA and how you can “Stand Up 2 OA,” visit oaaction.unc.edu.