[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 2-Jan-2008
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Contact: Amy Molnar

The prevalence and impact of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States

Expert estimates of the current and future disease burden indicate a large and growing public health problem

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States. Over the next 25 years as the Baby Boom generation continues to age, the toll of this disease will escalate. To have a clear picture of the looming disease burden and its impact on our nation’s health care and public health systems, estimating disease prevalence—the number of people affected by any form of arthritis—is critical.

The National Arthritis Data Workgroup was formed to provide a single source of national data on various rheumatic conditions. Supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Rheumatology, and the Arthritis Foundation, its epidemiology experts use the best studies available to determine disease prevalence, assess potential disease impact, and identify gaps in our understanding of disease rates, populations, and social implications. In the January 2008 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), the group presents its latest report on the troubling state of arthritis in America.

Based on analyses of population estimates from the Census Bureau, responses from national surveys, and findings from scores of community-based studies across the country, the National Arthritis Data Workgroup offers an unsettling snapshot of the 2005 (and future) burden of arthritis. Some key findings of the study include:

“Measuring the prevalence of arthritis poses many challenges,” acknowledges National Arthritis Data Workgroup spokesperson and member, Dr. Charles G. Helmick. For starters, some conditions are episodic and others have no standard case definition. In addition, estimates for some rheumatic conditions rely on small or older studies with results that might not apply to the current U.S. population. However, this report calls attention to the high prevalence of arthritis nationwide and the growing burden on not only our health care and public health systems, but also on American industry and society.


Article: “Estimates of the Prevalence of Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Conditions in the United States, Part I and Part II,” Charles G. Helmick, David T. Felson, Reva C. Lawrence, Sherine Gabriel, Rosemarie Hirsch, C. Kent Kwoh, Matthew H. Liang, Hilal Maradit Kremers, Maureen D. Mayes, Peter A. Merkel, Stanley R. Pillemer, John D. Reveille, John H. Stone, Lesley M. Arnold, Hyon Choi, Richard A. Deyo, Marc C. Hochberg, Gene G. Hunder, Joanne M. Jordan, Jeffrey N. Katz, and Frederick Wolfe for the National Arthritis Data Workgroup; Arthritis & Rheumatism, January 2008, 58:1.

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