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Poorer Health-Related Quality of Life Reported in Adults with Arthritis

Poorer Health-Related Quality of Life Reported in Adults with Arthritis

The health-related quality of life (HRQOL) for US adults who have arthritis is much worse than for those who do not, according to a recent study. Both physical and mental health are affected, posing a significant health and economic burden as the number of diagnoses continues to increase.

Sylvia Furner and colleagues from the CDC analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to compare HRQOL in US adults with arthritis and those without arthritis. Questions related to arthritis are included in the annual survey in odd years; the current study used data from 2003, 2005, and 2007.

More than 1 million respondents were included in the analysis; 27% of those with arthritis reported fair or poor health compared with 12% of those without arthritis. Persons who had arthritis reported a greater 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) than those who did not have the disease. Those with arthritis who experienced limitations to normal activities reported poorer HRQOL than those who did not have arthritis.

HRQOL measures used for analysis were demographics (age, sex, race), social factors (education, income, employment), health care factors (access to care, cost barrier to care), health behaviors (physical activity, smoking status, alcohol consumption), and health factors (diabetes mellitus [DM], hypertension, body mass index). Having low family income, being unable to work, finding cost to be a barrier to care, and having DM were strongly associated with poor HRQOL.

Physically active persons had significantly better HRQOL than inactive persons. Those who had arthritis and remained physically active were less likely to report fair or poor health.

The authors suggested that with a projected high prevalence of arthritis in the United States, physicians address interventions to both physical health and mental health and that increasing physical activity, reducing comorbidities, and increasing access to health care may be good ways to improve the quality of life for adults with arthritis. The study appears online in Arthritis Care & Research, an American College of Rheumatology journal.

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