October 16, 2018
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More than half of arthritis patients aged 45 or older untreated

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Kristina Theis, PhD
Kristina Theis

More than 50% of adults aged 45 years or older with some form of arthritis are currently going untreated, despite a substantial proportion experiencing severe symptoms and poor physical function, according to data published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.

“Arthritis is treatable, but people need to be connected to clinical and public health systems to benefit from available treatments,” Kristina Theis, PhD, of the CDC Arthritis Program, told Healio Rheumatology. “More than half of adults aged 45 or older with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are not currently being treated for it. Very poor quality-of-life, daily joint pain, limited function and arthritis-attributable symptoms were common among those with no current treatment.”

To better understand adults with diagnosed cases of arthritis who do not receive treatment, Theis and colleagues obtained data from the Arthritis Conditions Health Effects Survey (ACHES), a cross-sectional, random-digit-dialed national telephone poll. The survey — funded and designed by the CDC, and executed through an agreement with the Battelle Center for Public Health Research in 2005 to 2006 — aimed to collect information on noninstitutionalized adults aged 45 and older with self-reported or physician-diagnosed arthritis or chronic joint symptoms.

The ACHES poll collected demographic information, as well as data on symptoms, physical functioning, arthritis limitations and interference in life activities, treatment, level of agreement with treatment, attitude knowledge and behavior. A total of 1,793 participants were identified as individuals with arthritis.

According to the researchers, 52% of the participants with arthritis were going untreated. Among those not receiving treatment, 59% said they had two or more symptomatic joints, 51% reported daily arthritis pain and 40% reported they were being limited by their condition. In addition, 19% of those going untreated reported being in the lowest third of physical functioning. Despite failing to receive treatment, 83% agreed or strongly agreed it was important to see a health care professional for diagnosis and treatment.

“Adults with arthritis can benefit greatly from medical management, referrals to self-management education and community-delivered interventions,” Theis said. “Non-rheumatology health care providers already seeing patients with diagnosed arthritis are ideally placed to begin arthritis treatment and provide referrals to specialists, community-delivered interventions and arthritis-specific care.” – by Jason Laday

Disclosure: Theis reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.