DefinitionPercentage of adults 18 years of age and older who responded "Yes" on the [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/brfss/default.aspx Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)] to the question: "Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia?"
NumeratorWeighted number of adults (18+) who responded "Yes" on the BRFSS to the question: "Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia?"
DenominatorWeighted number of adults (18+) with complete and valid responses on the BRFSS to the arthritis prevalence question, excluding those with missing, "Don't know/Not Sure," or "Refused" responses.
Data Interpretation IssuesThe Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a primary source for estimating arthritis prevalence for Alaska. The median of states, District of Columbia, and territories provides a comparison for the United States (U.S.). The BRFSS is a telephone survey of adults 18 and over. Information on background and methodology of the BRFSS managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be found at: [http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/]. The website for the Alaska BRFSS is: [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/brfss/default.aspx].
Post-stratification weights were used for Alaska prior to 2006; raking weights were used from 2007 onward. For more on this methodological change see: [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/brfss/method.aspx].
Why Is This Important?Arthritis affects 1 in 5 adults and continues to be the most common cause of disability in the United States.^1^ The disease includes over 100 rheumatic conditions that affect joints, tissues which surround the joints, and other connective tissues; other forms include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and gout.^2^ Common symptoms of arthritis include swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Long-term effects of arthritis include worsening of joint symptoms and disability.^3^
Arthritis is associated with considerable activity limitation and work disability as well as significant health care costs.^4^ It has been estimated that about 20-70% of people employed at the onset of rheumatoid arthritis will be work disabled after 7-10 years.^5^ Annually, arthritis results in 44 million outpatient visits, nearly 1 million hospitalizations, and more than $128 billion in direct and indirect expenditures.^4^ Overall burden of this disease is expected to increase in the coming decades, and by 2040, approximately 26% of the projected adult population will have arthritis.^6^[[br]]
1. Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Theis KA, et al. Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation--United States, 2010-2012. MMWR 2013;62(44):869-73. PubMed PMID: 24196662.
2. Athanasiou AK, Darling EM, Hu, JC, DuRaine GD, Reddi AH. Articular Cartilage. CRC Press;2013:105.
3. Nevitt MC. Osteoporosis. In: Klippel JH, Crofford LJ, Stone JH, Weyand CM, eds. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. Atlanta: Arthritis Foundation; 2001.
4. Furner SE, Hootman JM, Helmick CG, Bolen J, Zack MM. Health-related quality of life of US adults with arthritis: analysis of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2003, 2005, 2007. Arthritis Care & Research 2011;63(6):788-99.
5. Hoving JL, van Zwieten MC, van der Meer M, Sluiter JK, Frings-Dresen MH. Work participation and arthritis: a systematic overview of challenges, adaptations and opportunities for interventions. Rheumatology 2013;52(7):1254-64.
6. Hootman JM, Helmick CG, Barbour KE, Theis KA, Boring MA. Updated projected prevalence of self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation among US adults, 2015-2040. Arthritis Rheumatol 2016;68(7):1582-1587.
How Are We Doing?Prevalence of arthritis has remained relatively steady among Alaska adults since 2000.
Prevalence of arthritis increases with age; however, the prevalence of arthritis among those 65 and older has been declining over the last 5 years. People who reported being unable to work or not in the workforce experienced significantly higher rates of arthritis (47.2% and 34.8% respectively) when compared to those who were employed (16.4%) or unemployed (16.3%). Prevalence of arthritis was also higher among obese people (30.7%) than people who were neither overweight nor obese (17.5%). Not surprisingly, arthritis was particularly high among those reporting disability (48.5%) as compared to those without disability (16.6%).
Rates of arthritis from the BRFSS are initially presented for all Alaskans and Alaska Native people. Subsequent analyses are reported by demographic subpopulations of sex, age, race/ethnicity, ethnicity, marital status, education, employment status, income, and poverty status.
Crosstabulations were also conducted for three-year averages by body mass index, sexual orientation, disability, number of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and self-reported general health.
Rates of arthritis by regions of Alaska are presented for the most recent time period allowing reporting for all Alaskans and Alaska Native people: 1) single-year for the 7 Alaska Public Health Regions, 2) three-year averages by the 5 Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistics Areas and rural remainder, 3) single-year for the 10 behavioral health assessment regions based upon aggregations of 20,000 population, 4) three-year averages for 29 boroughs and census areas, and 5) five-year averages for the 12 tribal health organization regions. These time intervals match those for the InstantAtlas health profiles for each of the geographic regionalizations of Alaska for those desiring longer time series.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?The rate of arthritis among Alaska adults has somewhat paralleled, but been consistently below the rate for the national median of states, District of Columbia, and territories. In 2016, the median prevalence rate for the U.S. was 25.4% and 23.8% among Alaska adults. It is important to note, however, that older age is associated with arthritis, and crude comparisons between Alaska and the U.S. may not reflect differences in age distributions.
What Is Being Done?Addressing the burden of arthritis requires coordinated and collaborative efforts among many organizations, such as governmental and public health agencies, private organizations such as the Arthritis Foundation, the area agencies on aging, health systems, health care providers, and others. These alliances help to assure the needed comprehensive approach to arthritis and help to promote the early diagnosis of arthritis.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/default.aspx Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CDPHP)] conducts the [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/brfss/default.aspx Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)] to collect data used in monitoring trends, defining the burden of arthritis in Alaska, and assessing how arthritis affects the health-related quality of life of Alaska residents. CDPHP also continues to support the [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/chronic/pages/selfmanagement/default.aspx Living Well Alaska] chronic disease self-management program (CDSMP) through its collaboration with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.
The [http://www.arthritis.org/alaska/ Arthritis Foundation] is the largest and most trusted nonprofit organization dedicated to conquering the challenges of people with arthritis. In Alaska, the Arthritis Foundation provides digital tools, Better Living Toolkits, and the Arthritis Today magazine. Additionally, the Foundation provides children with juvenile arthritis JA Power Packs and Arthritis Foundation JA camps.