Objectives: Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis (CP) frequently hinder patients' ability to work. The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of CP on employment patterns and health care experience.
Methods: Patients with CP at 4 US pancreas centers were evaluated. A survey was given to each patient during an office visit between July 1, 2006 and October 31, 2007.
Results: One hundred eleven patient surveys were returned. The median age was 52 years; the median duration of CP symptoms was 8.2 years. Seventy-four percent had their work lives altered by CP, 60% reported an effect on their social lives, and 46% reported an effect on their spouse/significant other relationship (P < 0.03). Only 37% were currently employed. During the week before completing the survey, the patients who were employed reported absences from their job due to CP symptoms, a median of 14 hours. On at least 1 visit to the ED, 80% of respondents reported that they had not been treated with respect and dignity, 45% had been labeled an alcoholic, and 29% had been labeled a drug seeker.
Conclusions: Chronic pancreatitis had a profound impact on employment patterns. Comprehensive efforts are needed to improve the health care experience of patients with this disease.