University of Oulu

Kujanpää, L., Arffman, R. K., Vaaramo, E., Rossi, H.-R., Laitinen, J., Morin-Papunen, L., Tapanainen, J., Ala-Mursula, L., & Piltonen, T. T. (2022). Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have poorer work ability and higher disability retirement rate at midlife: A Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 study. European Journal of Endocrinology, 187(3), 479–488.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have poorer work ability and higher disability retirement rate at midlife : a Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 study

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Author: Kujanpää, Linda1,2,3; Arffman, Riikka K1,2,3; Vaaramo, Eeva4;
Organizations: 1PEDEGO Research Unit (Research Unit for Pediatrics, Dermatology, Clinical Genetics, Obstetrics and Gynecology), University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center Oulu (MRC Oulu), University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4Infrastructure for Population Studies, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
7Center for Life Course Health Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Bioscientifica, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-10-27


Objective: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) presents with multiple comorbidities potentially affecting function. This was the first general population-based study to evaluate work ability, participation in working life, and disability retirement in middle-aged women with and without PCOS.

Design: This is a cohort study.

Methods: Women with PCOS (n = 280) and women without PCOS symptoms or diagnosis (n  = 1573) were identified in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort in 1966 and were evaluated for self-rated work ability and potential confounders at age 46. Next, incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for disability and unemployment days were extracted from national registers during a prospective 2-year follow-up. Lastly, we assessed hazard ratios (HRs) for disability retirement between 16 and 52 years of age from national registers.

Results: The women with PCOS reported poorer ability to work at age 46, especially due to poorer health. During the 2-year follow-up period, the affected women gained on average an additional month of disability and unemployment days, corresponding to an approximately 25% higher risk for both disability (IRR (95% CI): 1.25 (1.22–1.27)) and unemployment days (IRR (95% CI): 1.26 (1.23–1.28)) in models adjusted for health and socioeconomic factors. Lastly, we found a two-fold higher cumulative risk for disability retirement by age 52 compared to non-PCOS women (HR (95% CI): 1.98 (1.40–2.80)), which remained after adjusting for confounding factors (aHR (95% CI): 1.55 (1.01–2.38)).

Conclusions: PCOS is associated with lower participation in working life already in midlife. Acknowledging PCOS-related multimorbidity, concerted efforts are needed to support sustainable careers for women with PCOS.

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Series: European journal of endocrinology
ISSN: 0804-4643
ISSN-E: 1479-683X
ISSN-L: 0804-4643
Volume: 187
Issue: 3
Pages: 479 - 488
DOI: 10.1530/eje-22-0027
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics
Funding: This study was supported by grants from the Academy of Finland (grant numbers 315921, 321763), The Finnish Cultural Foundation (grant number 60212369), The Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation (grant number 6207), The Emil Aaltonen Foundation (grant number 210083K). NFBC1966 received financial support from University of Oulu Grant no. 24000692, Oulu University Hospital Grant no. 24301140, and ERDF European Regional Development Fund Grant no. 539/2010 A31592.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 315921
Detailed Information: 315921 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
321763 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The authors. Published by Bioscientifica Ltd. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.