Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Workplace Disability – What Employers and Employees Should Know

Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 1:30 PM PT, 4:30 PM ET, 9:30 PM GMT, Friday, April 12, 2019 at 8:30 AM NZT

Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease are similar illnesses and are often referred to together as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). These conditions are life-long and may flare up unpredictably. However, many people with IBD will have long periods when they have few or no symptoms at all.   People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease want to work, and in many cases have the health to work, however a range of factors can cause barriers to managing their IBD at work. This webinar will present current research evidence on the impacts of IBD on work abilities and the types of resources that employees are seeking to assist them in maintaining employment despite their chronic disease.

You will learn

  • to appreciate the impact of IBD on employment and understand the workplace challenges faced by workers with IBD
  • about the accommodations and strategies IBD patients have used for overcoming workplace disability.
  • what resources are already available for employees and employers and what resources should be made available in the future.

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Take-home messages

  • IBD patients have an increased frequency of sick leave, disability pension, and unemployment compared to the general population.
  • Up to 90% of IBD patients require accommodations but as many as two-thirds are not able to make work adjustments to avoid taking time off.
  • Perhaps the most common accommodations most required are access to a toilet or toilet breaks and time off to attend medical appointments.
  • Examples of good resources for employees and employers are available on the Crohn’s and Colitis United Kingdom website.

Hosted by


Andrew McCombie​, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Surgery, University of Otago, New Zealand
Dr Andrew McCombie was awarded his PhD in 2014 for his thesis entitled "The Psychological Aspects of Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Before his PhD he was awarded a BSc and BA(Hons) in Psychology. Since then, he has continued working in the domain of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), although also has research interest in colorectal cancer and surgery. He has led and supervised projects involved in validating questionnaires for measuring coping and disability in IBD patients. He has supervised a systematic review of studies about strategies and accommodations IBD patients can use for overcoming workplace disability and also a study looking strategies and accommodations used by New Zealand IBD patients in the workplace.

Q&A Discussant


Tammy C. Yates

Executive Director of Realize
Tammy C. Yates is the Executive Director of Realize. Realize is the founder of and still currently hosts and chairs the Secretariat of the National Episodic Disabilities Forum (EDF). The EDF has effectively brought together organizations working on issues affecting people with episodic disabilities. The EDF currently has a membership of over 30 organizations from across the country and serves as a pan-Canadian forum for issues relating to episodic disabilities.

Promotional Partner:

Partially funded by

This program is pre-approved by the Vocational Rehabilitation Association of Canada (VRA Canada) for one hour training session.

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