Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Data and Statistics

State Surveillance Recommendations

Surveillance at the state level is essential for assessing the burden of arthritis, describing how arthritis affects various subpopulations, monitoring trends over time, and decision making for targeting interventions, allocating resources, and shaping state health policy. The following recommendations are intended to provide general direction and consistency for arthritis surveillance.

Strongly recommended

We encourage all states to participate in the following two surveillance activities:

  1. BRFSS—Starting in 2012, the BRFSS now offers the arthritis case finding question in both even and odd years. It is offered in the Chronic Health Conditions Core section of the questionnaire.  In addition, in odd years use these two sources: a) the "Arthritis Core" (Burden Questions) and b) the optional "BRFSS Arthritis Optional Module (Management Questions). The Burden Questions appear in the BRFSS core in odd-numbered years; and  the Arthritis Management Questions appear in an optional module in odd years (a rationale for including the Arthritis Management Questions in odd years is available [DOC–92K]).

    CDC is not including either set of arthritis modules (burden or management) in even years. Thus, if a state wanted to use these questions in even years they would have to be included as special state added questions.

    We recommend BRFSS arthritis data be analyzed for prevalence, health-related quality of life, limitations, behavioral arthritis risk factors (e.g., physical inactivity and obesity), interventions (e.g., taking an educational course), and by demographic groups (e.g., age, sex, race/ethnicity). A “state of arthritis report” should be prepared to disseminate the information every two years.

  2. Evidence-based interventions—Track the annual capacity to deliver evidence-based self- management interventions within the state and the number of participants reached by the interventions. Capacity measures the numbers of sites offering interventions and their geographic dispersion, courses offered, leaders offering interventions, and trainers offering trainings. Reach measures the number and characteristics of participants in the interventions. Evidence-based self-management interventions include interventions such as the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, EnhanceFitness, Walk with Ease, the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, and Arthritis Self-Management Program.

Possible surveillance activities

The following surveillance data sources may be fruitful. However, states are discouraged from pursuing these activities unless there is a direct link to program activity and they are consistent with state arthritis plans:

  • Outpatient/ambulatory care data.
  • Data from managed care organizations.
  • Hospital discharge/joint replacement data.
  • Follow-back surveys of persons identified as having arthritis in BRFSS, other surveys, or other data sources. For example, data to gauge if state intervention programs are achieving the desired effects might include:
    • Awareness of signs and symptoms of arthritis and management options available.
    • Awareness of the need for early diagnosis and appropriate management.
    • Participation in arthritis self-management programs.
    • Early diagnosis and appropriate management of joint symptoms and arthritis.
    • Pain, disability, and quality of life among people with arthritis.
  • States can consider monitoring state trends in relevant Healthy People 2020 arthritis objectives by adding questions to the BRFSS (e.g., the optional BRFSS Arthritis Optional Module (Management Questions)), conducting special studies, or using NHIS Arthritis related questions (CAN 250_00.000 – CAN 297_00.010) [PDF–846K].

Not recommended

These surveillance activities are unlikely to help define the burden of arthritis in your state or assist in program activities, and should not be pursued unless there is a special and specific rationale for doing so.

  • Mortality data.
  • Medicaid data.
  • Pharmacy data.
  • Trauma registry or other injury data.
  • Workers’ Compensation or Social Security Income data.
  • Infectious disease surveillance data for gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Lyme disease surveillance data.

Back to Question Categories


Contact Us:
  • Arthritis Program
    Mailstop F-78
    4770 Buford Hwy NE
    Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
  • Phone: 770.488.5464
    Fax: 770.488.5964
  • Contact CDC-Info The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC-INFO