Adults With Arthritis Suffer With Poorer Health Related Quality Of Life

Main Category: Arthritis / Rheumatology
Article Date: 27 Apr 2011 – 21:00 PDT

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A new study reports that the health-related quality of life (HRQOL)
for U.S. adults with arthritis is much worse than for those without
this condition. Both physical and mental health are affected by
arthritis, which poses a significant health and economic burden as the
number of those diagnosed continues to climb. Details of this study
are now online in Arthritis Care Research, a journal published by
Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology

Approximately, 50 million Americans have doctor-diagnosed arthritis,
and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates
that with the aging U.S. population 67 million adults could be
affected by 2030. Arthritis is also the most common cause of
disability in the U.S.—limiting activity for 19 million individuals
and inhibiting employment for nearly 8 million working-age Americans.
According to prior studies, arthritis accounts for 44 million
outpatient visits, roughly 1 million hospitalizations, and more than
$128 billion in medical expenses and lost earnings in the U.S.

In the present study, Sylvia Furner, MPH, PhD, of the School of Public
Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues at CDC
analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
(BRFSS) to compare HRQOL in U.S. adults with and without arthritis.
BRFSS is a telephone survey used by state health departments and CDC
to collect HRQOL, demographic, and behavioral risk factor information
from a representative sample of U.S. adults 18 years of age and older.
Questions related to arthritis are included in the annual survey in
odd years, and the current study used data from 2003, 2005, 2007.

More than 1 million respondents were included in the analysis during
the 3-year study period. Researchers found 27% of survey respondents
with arthritis reported fair or poor health compared to 12% of those
without arthritis. The mean number of physically unhealthy days (7
vs.3), mentally unhealthy days (5 vs.3), total unhealthy days (10
vs.5), and activity-limited days (4 vs.1) was greater for individuals
with arthritis than for those without. Additionally, those with
arthritis who experienced limitations to normal activities reported
poorer HRQOL than individuals without arthritis-related restrictions.

“Our analysis showed that the values for all five measures of HRQOL
were 2-3 times worse in those with arthritis compared to those
without,” said Dr. Furner. HRQOL measures used for analysis were
demographics (age, gender, race), social factors (education, income,
employment), healthcare factors (access to care, cost barrier to
care), health behaviors (physical activity, smoking status, alcohol
consumption), and health conditions (diabetes, hypertension, body mass
index). Having low family income, being unable to work, cost being a
barrier to care, and having diabetes were all strongly associated with
poor HRQOL.

Individuals who were physically active had significantly better HRQOL
compared with those who were inactive. Furthermore, those who had
arthritis and remained physically active were less likely to report
fair or poor health. “Given the projected high prevalence of
arthritis in the U.S. interventions should address both physical
health and mental health,” concluded Dr. Furner. “Increasing physical
activity, reducing co-morbidities, and increasing access to healthcare
could improve the quality of life for adults with arthritis.”

Full Citation: “Health-Related Quality of Life of U.S. Adults with
Arthritis: Analysis of Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor
Surveillance System, 2003, 2005, and 2007.” Sylvia E. Furner,
Jennifer M. Hootman, Charles G. Helmick, Julie Bolen, Matthew M. Zack.
Arthritis Care and Research; Published Online: April 28, 2011 (DOI:



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