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The Relationship Between Work and Health in Persons with Usher Syndrome Type 2 — JVIB Abstract

Abstract: Introduction: Persons with deafblindness may have additional physical and psychological health problems. In this study we have focused on health from a work-life perspective in persons with Usher syndrome type 2 (USH2), a disorder with sensorineural hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between work and disability pension and physical and psychological health in persons with USH2. Methods: Participants were recruited from the Swedish Usher database. Eighty-four persons (aged 18 to 65 years) received a health-related questionnaire and 67 (36 women and 31 men) agreed to participate. The participants formed two groups (working group, n = 34; disability pension group, n = 33). A Swedish Health on Equal Terms questionnaire comprising questions on psychological and physical health, living conditions, work activity, and social relationships was used. A chi-square test of significance was used with a significance level of p < 0.05. Results: The two groups did not differ in terms of age, gender, degree of hearing loss, visual acuity, or visual field loss. The working group had statistically significant better health compared to the disability pension group in areas such as being overweight, handling problems, concentration, feeling unhappy, depressive symptoms, and feelings of worthlessness. Suicidal thoughts and attempts were significantly more common in the disability pension group. Discussion: Persons with USH2 generally reported very poor physical and psychological health, with significant differences between persons who were working and those who were not. This study highlights the need for early rehabilitation, vocational training, and opportunities to access the labor market. Implications for practitioners: It is important that persons with USH2 receive vocational support from an early age and that professionals in the field of rehabilitation always include work activity as a key element of interventions.

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