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Ankylosing spondylitis--education, employment and invalidity.

Two hundred forty-eight patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis (AS) completed a questionnaire about the social impact of the disease. Of the 84% who replied to the questions about employment status, 118 patients were employed full-time. The ability to manage full-time employment was reduced in 41 patients. Eighty-five patients indicated that they had changed occupation or educational status as a cause of AS; 46 of these later experienced a more progressive course, which reduced their working capacity, and 31 retired as invalids. Despite the long-term morbidity with gradual loss of functional capacity, 85% were still able to work after more than 20 years of illness. If we pay more attention to initial symptoms related to AS, delay in the diagnosis of AS could be decreased and social instability avoided by guidance in education and light occupations.

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