Quality of life among disability pensioners with musculoskeletal disorders. Studies in a geographically defined population in Sweden

University dissertation from School of Social Work, Box 23, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: The starting-point of this thesis was the high rate of disability pensioners in Sweden and the lack of knowledge about what a disability pension entails for quality of life (QL). The aim of the study was to gain knowledge about QL among disability retirees with musculoskeletal disorders (ERPs). A questionnaire was sent in 1992 to 450 ERPs in Kristianstad Municipality, Sweden, granted their disability pension 1986-1990, during the last period of what might be called the "golden age" of welfare policies in Sweden. A control group received a corresponding questionnaire, and 55 ERPs were interviewed in 1992. A second questionnaire was sent to the ERPs in 1994. The QL of the ERPs was lower than among controls. Poor QL was more frequent among young (<55 years) than older ERPs and among immigrant compared to Swedish ERPs. Male more often than female ERPs reported their QL to have deteriorated since the retirement. Subjective health status was strongly related to QL among ERPs, as were social network, leisure-time activities, self-image and economy. Experience of an unemployment period preceding the retirement and the view of the disability pension as the best solution were furthermore associated with good QL among ERPs. The interviews revealed that the ERPs considered family relations and health conditions the most important factors influencing their QL. Economic hardship was reported among ERPs with poor/declining QL. The results of this study indicated that the disability pension and the conditions leading to the retirement decision influenced the QL of the ERPs. The disability pension decision as a result of an agreement involving the ERP was emphasised, as well as the importance of continuing medical treatment and rehabilitation efforts among ERPs.

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