Maintaining a commitment to leading strategic public health efforts in chronic disease prevention and control, the CDC is working with the Arthritis Foundation (AF) and other partners in an arthritis program designed to improve the quality of life of the more than 46 million Americans who have this disease. A key component is an effort to change patients' attitudes and behaviors related to self-management (see "Tips for helping patients improve their arthritis," below).
To address the growing problem of arthritis,the CDC, the AF, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and 90 other organizations developed the National Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy. By implementing its goals, they are moving toward achieving the first-ever arthritis related national objectives outlined in Healthy People 2010.
The CDC's arthritis program is addressing the primary goal of improving patients' quality of life by supporting the following activities:
• Building state arthritis programs. These efforts include funding state programs at higher levels to address arthritis through broader public health efforts; working to expand evidence based interventions to provide services to more persons with arthritis; and creating and expanding innovative partnerships at local, state, and national levels.
• Reaching the public. A communications campaign,"Physical Activity.The Arthritis Pain Reliever," promotes physical activity in persons aged 45 to 70 years and those of low socioeconomic status.
• Improving the science base.The CDC is supporting research to learn more about arthritis and effective management strategies, including evaluation of group based and self-directed walking programs in a culturally diverse sample of adults with arthritis.
• Measuring the burden of arthritis. At the national level, the CDC is using surveys to define the burden of arthritis and monitor trends.
• Making policy and systems changes.The CDC's epidemiology and surveillance activities collect data useful to policy decision makers, such as cost estimates and data on arthritis-attributable work limitations at state and national levels.
In addition to improving patients' quality of life, the CDC has the following long-term goals:
• Build on expert recommendations to implement broader programs (eg, involving networks of aging services agencies, cooperative extension programs, large health care systems, and large employers).
• Identify model dissemination efforts that can be replicated in other states.
• Develop innovative interventions that meet the needs of diverse populations.
• Work collaboratively with other chronic disease programs at federal and state levels.
For more information or copies of the National Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy, visit the CDC Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis. Or, contact the organization at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Mail Stop K-51, Atlanta, GA 30341-3717; telephone: 770-488-5464.
Tips for helping patients improve their arthritis
To effectively reduce symptoms, improve physical function, and enhance the quality of life for persons with arthritis, the CDC recommends the following approaches:
• Self-management education programs. Such programs can help reduce pain and costs. For example, the Arthritis Foundation's Self-Help Program, a 6-week course, teaches persons how to manage arthritis and lessen its effects.
• Physical activity. This may provide significant benefits, including reductions in pain and improvements in physical function, mental health, and quality of life.
• Weight control and injury prevention measures. These can lower a person's risk of osteoarthritis (OA), and weight loss can reduce symptoms in persons with knee OA.
• Early diagnosis and appropriate management. These can help avoid pain and disability.