Background: People with chronic knee pain may opt to continue to work without seeking specific ergonomic adaptations
or disclose the existence or severity of their pain to work colleagues or supervisors due to the pressures of maintaining
employment. To gain a deep personal perspective on how people with chronic knee pain cope while working [7, 8, 17, 18],
qualitative research methods are a useful way of in encouraging meaningful discussion amongst workers with chronic knee
pain of potential work-related strategies to minimize their work-related disability.
Objective: To conduct an in-depth exploration of the impact of chronic knee pain on the working life of selected
individuals. The specific aim was to identify barriers and enablers for promoting sustainable work within the work environment
following the methodological principles from grounded theory.
Method: Eleven workers with chronic knee pain participated in one of three focus groups (age range 51–77 years). All
focus group sessions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Two researchers independently identified themes around the
common challenges for continuing employment among older people with chronic knee pain.
Results: The main themes expressed in these focus groups were: 1) the effect of knee pain on work productivity, 2)
strategies to improve work productivity, and 3) future suggestions about sustainable work for older people with chronic knee
pain. New insights gained from the focus groups included the extent of physical limitations due to chronic knee pain, lack
of ergonomic policies within the workplace, types of work transitions utilized to accommodate knee pain, complexity of
disclosure, social support at work, and the unpredictability of future arthritis progression.
Conclusion: This research suggests that in providing the appropriate work environment to enable individuals with knee
pain to continue to be productive members of society, workplace strategies are needed to minimize the stigma and encourage
communication about chronic knee pain, as well investment in appropriate ergonomic support equipment.
Osteoarthritis, Knee, Worker productivity, qualitative research, work transitions