RA carries “social costs” as well as economic burden

Apr 25, 2010

The deleterious effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on employment and productivity are clearly associated with a burden on the US economy. However, RA also has significant “social costs” for both employed and unemployed persons.

The deleterious effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on employment and productivity are clearly associated with a burden on the US economy. However, RA also has significant “social costs” for both employed and unemployed persons.

Sullivan and associates analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative sample of the US population that showed the overall incidence of RA among the 68,666 survey respondents to be 0.6%. Unadjusted data showed that the 378 persons with RA were older than those without, had more chronic conditions, were bedridden more often, were more functionally limited at home and at work, and had smaller paychecks.

More specifically, after adjustment of the data, persons who had RA were 53% less likely to be employed than those without RA. Expected annual earnings were $32,256 for persons without RA and $23,323 for persons with RA. Persons with RA were bedridden 21.7 days a year, compared with 6.1 days for persons without RA. They also were one-third more likely to be limited in their ability to perform employment or housework activities.

The authors noted that successful control of RA disease symptoms could both improve outcomes for patients and mitigate the burden on the US population.

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