Arthritis, a leading cause of disability among US adults, affects 46 million people. Arthritis-attributable work limitation (AAWL) can have substantial social and economic impacts including absenteeism, reduced productivity, work loss and lower income. Some studies have examined work limitations for people with specific rheumatic conditions, but none have presented a complete picture for the entire spectrum of arthritis in the general population. A new study published in the April 2007 issue of Arthritis Care & Research (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritiscare) estimated the prevalence of AAWL in adults between the ages of 18 and 64 and examined characteristics related to AAWL in this age group.
Led by Kristina A. Theis, MPH, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, researchers analyzed data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, which was administered to more than 31,000 adults over the age of 18. The survey included questions about whether respondents had been diagnosed with arthritis by a doctor and whether arthritis or joint symptoms affected whether they worked, and the type or the amount of work they did. Based on their answers, an estimated 6.9 million individuals have AAWL. Respondents were also asked about their physical activity, the presence of chronic co-conditions, limitations not related to work, the severity of their joint pain, their work status and disability payments, and their health access and utilization.
The results showed that among working age adults, 1 in 20 reported AAWL, and, among those with arthritis, 1 in 3 reported AAWL. Adults with arthritis and AAWL had multiple indicators of poor physical health and function, such as high body mass index, joint pain, physical limitations in several activities, and frequent doctor's office visits. AAWL was more common in older age groups and, when adjust
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