Arthritis & Rheumatism, Volume 60,
October 2009 Abstract Supplement

The 2009 ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting
Philadelphia October 16-21, 2009.

Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Prevalence, Impact and Management of Doctor-Diagnosed ArthritisUnited States, 2002, 2003 & 2006

Bolen,  Julie, Helmick,  Charles G., Hootman,  Jennifer M., Murphy,  Louise, Langmaid,  Gary


By 2010 about one in three US residents will belong to a minority group (one in two by 2050). Previous studies have shown racial and ethnic differences in arthritis prevalence and impact (e.g., prevalence is similar between whites and blacks, but impact is more severe for blacks). We describe the prevalence, impact and management of arthritis among six racial groups (White, Black, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian and other) and 8 Hispanic subgroups.


We combined data from the 2002, 2003 and 2006 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an in-person national sample of the U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized population aged >18 years (N=85,897). Respondents were asked about health conditions, including doctor-diagnosed arthritis, arthritis-attributable activity and work limitations, arthritis-related pain, and health care provider counseling to lose weight, be more physically active or to take a class to manage arthritis symptoms. Non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics and Asians were oversampled.


Overall about 21.2% of US adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis; of these 37.8% report an arthritis attributable activity limitation and 25.6% report severe joint pain. Of adults of working age (18–64) who had arthritis 31% reported arthritis-attributable work limitations. White non-Hispanics have less arthritis-attributable limitation (36.3%, 95% C.I. 35.3–37.3) than Black non-Hispanics 44.7, CI 42.6–46.7), or Hispanics (43.2%, CI 40.2–46.3). Similar patterns were observed for work limitation and severe joint pain. Differences remained when estimates were age-adjusted. Health care provider counseling to lose weight to help arthritis symptoms was 30.7% overall and was highest for black non-Hispanics (39.6%, CI 37.5–41.8) and Hispanics (38.6%, CI 35.9–41.2). Counseling to increase physical activity was 53.6% overall but lower among American Indians (38.8%, CI 30.6–47.6). Counseling to take a class to manage arthritis symptoms was only 10.5% overall and differences between racial groups were not significant.. Estimates varied among the 8 Hispanic subgroups but, due to small sample sizes, no differences were significant.


There is considerable racial and ethnic variation in arthritis prevalence, impact, and management. Possible reasons include 1) lack of health care access and/or utilization leading to delays in seeking medical attention for joint problems, 2) the presence of co-morbid conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, 3) cultural differences in perception of pain or willingness to report pain, and 4) employment in jobs that are physically demanding. Arthritis interventions may need to target minority populations in different ways to help reduce arthritis related impact.

To cite this abstract, please use the following information:
Bolen, Julie, Helmick, Charles G., Hootman, Jennifer M., Murphy, Louise, Langmaid, Gary; Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Prevalence, Impact and Management of Doctor-Diagnosed ArthritisUnited States, 2002, 2003 & 2006 [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 2009;60 Suppl 10 :1869
DOI: 10.1002/art.26943

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