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Chronic Health Conditions

Chronic health conditions have a tremendous impact on work productivity. Nine million Canadians - about one in three youth and adults ages 12 and up - report that they have been diagnosed by a health care professional as having at least one of the following seven high-prevalence, high-impact chronic health conditions: Doctor with x-rays

More than one-third of people with one chronic health condition report moderate or severe disability (36%) and half of those with two or more conditions report moderate or severe disability (51%). Chronic health conditions can have profound effects on people’s sense of well-being and their ability to continue their everyday activities at home, work and play. 

To a great extent, many chronic health conditions are rooted in the way we live. A handful of avoidable risk factors can make important changes to ones quality of life at work and at home, such as:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor eating habits
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Poor coping skills

 To make a difference we need to think about disability prevention from a broader perspective – what can be done at workplaces to improve public and population health, that in turn improve workplace health and productivity.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs are the most prevalent chronic health conditions in Canada and a leading cause of disability and use of health care resources.  Musculoskeletal disorders include a broad range of disorders that affect the bones, joints and connective tissue.  These include arthritis and related conditions, back pain and spinal disorders, other bone and joint conditions and trauma (fractures, dislocations and sprains and strains).  


Every year, almost one quarter of the population (22%) see a doctor because of musculoskeletal disorders. It is estimated that the direct and indirect costs of the management of arthritis alone is over $23 billion a year in Canada, with the majority of costs being associated with osteoarthritis and back pain.  People with musculoskeletal disorders may experience a reduction in their activities of daily living or function and without proper management can lead to a significant reduction in quality of life and reduced work productivity.

Reviewed by: Marc White PhD, Scientific & Executive Director, CIRPD

Last Modified: 9/17/2015 3:05 PM