Managing Diabetes in the Workplace

Margaret McCarthy, Allison Vorderstrasse, Joeyee Yan, Angie Portillo, Victoria Vaughan Dickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although many adults with diabetes are productive members of the workforce, loss of work productivity has been associated with diabetes. The purpose of this study was to explore the interrelationship between work-related factors and current work ability in adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Methods: This study used a convergent mixed-method design. We assessed the relationship between work-related factors and work ability using bivariate statistics and logistic regression. Work ability was measured using the Work Ability Index and Karasek’s Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ) was employed to measure job demands. Qualitative interviews (n = 30) explored the relationship between diabetes and work. Findings: The sample (n =101) was mostly female (65%) and White (74%). Most worked full-time (65%), had T2D (87%), an elevated glycated hemoglobin A1c ≥ 7% (56%), and were overweight (22%) or obese (68%). Only 33% of subjects self-reported their work ability as excellent. Four of the JCQ subscales (skill discretion, psychological demands, supervisor support, and coworker support), and work–life balance were significantly associated with work ability (all p <.05). In adjusted models, better coworker support (OR = 1.4; 95% CI = [1.04, 1.9]) and better work–life balance (OR = 1.3; 95% CI = [1.1, 1.5]) were associated with excellent work ability. Many stated their diabetes impacted them at work and spoke of the effects of stress. Few engaged in workplace wellness programs. Conclusion/Application to Practice: Social support and work–life balance were associated with excellent work ability. Engaging workers with diabetes in workplace educational programs may take strategic efforts by occupational health staff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • chronic illness
  • disease prevention
  • social support
  • work ability
  • work–life balance
  • Occupational Health
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support
  • Male
  • Self-Management
  • Workload
  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
  • Female
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Work-Life Balance/statistics & numerical data
  • Workplace/psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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