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Arthritis Policy: Strategic Directions

Public health policy is a growing focus within the public health community because it can be an effective, low cost, sustainable approach to improve health. Policy change strategies expand the public health framework for arthritis and can be used at a variety of levels and by a variety of entities and partners. These strategies also have the potential to improve arthritis health outcomes in large populations, much like policies have been effective in addressing other public health issues such as smoking and injury. A range of issues can be addressed through policies and by changing physical and social environments from quality of life to disease management and by disseminating evidence-based interventions. Policy strategies for arthritis also have the potential to positively affect chronic conditions that commonly co-occur arthritis; such as, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Read more about the arthritis policy-related activities and documents.

Gears Briefs

Managing Arthritis: Improving Lives—(National Conference of State Legislatures Legisbrief. Briefing Papers on Important Issues of the Day. June–July 2011, Vol. 19, No. 30.):

This NCSL policy brief for legislators provides an overview of the public health problem of arthritis, including discussion of the costs associated with arthritis, arthritis prevalence and impact, and the most common chronic conditions that occur with arthritis. Highlights are provided of both state and federal action. Access the full text of the Legisbrief [PDF - 259KB].

Learn more about the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Reducing the Impact of Arthritis(Council of State Governments):

This policy brief includes a personal story of how exercise positively affects the life of a woman with arthritis. The brief also addresses the costs of arthritis, burden and impact of arthritis, public health policies that work to reduce the effects of arthritis, and information about the role state legislators can play in addressing the burden of arthritis.  Examples of state legislative actions to address arthritis are also provided. Access the full text of the policy brief [PDF - 376KB].

Learn more about the Council of State Governments.

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National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis CoverA National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis

A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis (OA Agenda)(2010) was developed by more than 70 stakeholders following a call-to-action led by the Arthritis Foundation and CDC. The OA Agenda  sets the stage for a collaborative and focused action to achieve the following three overall goals:

  1. Ensure availability and access to evidence-based arthritis interventions that address self-management education, physical activity, injury prevention, and weight management.
  2. Establish supportive policies, communication initiatives, and strategic alliances for osteoarthritis (OA) prevention and management.
  3. Initiate needed research to better understand the burden of OA, its risk factors, and effective intervention strategies.

The OA Agenda is geared to serve as a blueprint for action and sets forth 10 strategy recommendations to reduce OA symptoms such as pain, disability, and joint-function loss. Learn more  and access the full text of the OA Agenda.

puzzleNational Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy

The National Arthritis Action Plan (NAAP) (1999) was developed by the Arthritis Foundation, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and CDC in collaboration with a wide variety of public and private partners.

The NAAP has the following six aims:

  1. Increase public awareness of arthritis as the leading cause of disability and an important public health problem.
  2. Prevent arthritis whenever possible.
  3. Promote early diagnosis and appropriate management for people with arthritis to ensure the maximum number of years of healthy life.
  4. Minimize preventable pain and disability due to arthritis.
  5. Support people with arthritis in developing and accessing the resources they need to cope with their disease.
  6. Ensure that people with arthritis receive the family, peer, and community support they need.

The plan takes a public health approach, focusing on the impact of the disease on the whole population and prevention efforts across the following three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Learn  more about the the NAAP - [PDF - 459KB].

CDC Arthritis At-A-Glance: Meeting the Challenge of Living Well, 2014

The annual CDC Arthritis-At-A-Glance provides a current, comprehensive overview of CDC Arthritis Program activities, including science and epidemiology activities and data updates; key public health messages and management strategies; state program funding initiatives; policy, partnership, and communication activities; funded state and partner success stories; and future program directions. Learn more from the Arthritis At-A-Glance.

The Arthritis Foundation’s Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Adults with Arthritis and corresponding Implementation Guide

The Arthritis Foundation (through a cooperative agreement with CDC) identified policy and environmental strategies for increasing physical activity among adults with arthritis in this 2012 publication. This project was prompted by a lack of current policy and environmental strategies for increasing physical activity that specifically address arthritis.

Individuals with arthritis have disease specific barriers to being physically active as well as high rates of other chronic diseases that also are associated with physical inactivity. Physical activity is beneficial for adults with arthritis, yet despite these benefits, adults with arthritis have higher rates of physical inactivity than those without arthritis. This project focused on increasing physical activity because of the many benefits for adults with arthritis, the unique role policy and environmental strategies can have in addressing arthritis specific barriers to physical activity, and the other long-established benefits physical activity has for co-occurring chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The policy and environmental strategies are designed to address the unique barriers adults with arthritis face with physical activity. 

The Arthritis Foundation's Implementation Guide, released in 2014, can be used to  help put into action policy and environmental strategies. The Environmental and Policy Strategy report identifies six influential sectors that play important roles in influencing and sustaining physical activity among adults with arthritis. The implementation guide was designed to help these sectors implement the strategies identified in the report.

Results and Insights from Focus Groups with State Legislators
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), in consultation with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) through a cooperative agreement with CDC, brought together a bipartisan group of legislators and legislative staff for two focus groups about arthritis topics at the 2013 NCSL legislative summit. The goals of the focus groups were to (1) assess factors considered by legislators in determining whether and how to take action about arthritis, (2) understand their priorities and reactions to  public health interventions that may reduce the burden of arthritis, and (3) explore strategies for communicating with state policymakers about arthritis. A final 2014 report was created that summarizes key findings from the focus groups, including recommendations for working with legislators to address arthritis and increase access to evidence-based, community health interventions. Learn more about Addressing Arthritis and Advancing Evidence-based Interventions

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Osteoarthritis Action Alliance

CDC is a sponsor and member of the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, a national coalition created with the Arthritis Foundation to promote and respond to the goals and recommendations contained in A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis. Under the leadership of the University of North Carolina, the CDC, the Arthritis Foundation, and nearly 40 partner organizations are working together to reduce the burden of osteoarthritis through strategies that address physical activity, injury prevention, and weight management.

The mission of the OA Action Alliance is to work collectively to advance the recommendations outlined in A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis [PDF - 175KB] by promoting action to prevent and control OA and its progression through proven interventions, public policies, communication strategies and enhanced research initiatives. For more information about the work of the Alliance and how to join, visit the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance or CDC Arthritis Program.

  • Osteoarthritis Action Alliance Sub-Awards to Implement the Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Adults with Arthritis

    The Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Adults with Arthritis report focuses on the benefits of physical activity and ways to make physical activity more convenient and accessible for adults with arthritis. The report focuses on six sectors that play crucial roles in reaching, influencing, and sustaining physical activity among adults with arthritis. The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, through the leadership of the University of North Carolina, plans to fund approximately six sub‐awards ($25,000 each) to community organizations to implement top strategies within the sectors in 2015.

Exploring Employee Health and Wellness Benefit Packages Through Medworks

Through a 2014 partnership with CDC and NACDD, Medworks Consulting will assist in educating multiple employers throughout the United States about the benefits of offering arthritis evidence-based interventions as part of health and wellness benefit packages for employees. Additionally, Medworks will explore options for insurance reimbursement of these programs and will educate public and private health insurance companies about the benefits of reimbursing organizations who offer arthritis evidence-based interventions using a pay-for-performance model.    

YMCA State Alliance Arthritis Roundtables and Community Awards

NACDD (through a cooperative agreement with CDC) co-sponsored two state roundtables in 2013 with YMCA State Alliances located in Florida and Michigan. The roundtables involved the regional community including key leaders, media, providers, and national partners. The goal of the roundtables was to educate community leaders on the issues around arthritis burden, cost, co-morbidities, evidence-based interventions, and related issues.   

The Florida roundtable focused on increasing awareness and use of evidence-based community programs across the health care delivery system to address chronic disease management and collaborative efforts to narrow the gap between clinical settings and community prevention programs. The roundtable incorporated a range of presentations and group discussions among 61 community leaders from 37 different organizations that included clinicians, health insurers, and consumers. Learn more about the Florida roundtable.  

The purpose of the Michigan roundtable was to promote and increase the dissemination of the physical intervention EnhanceFitness (EF). The roundtable included representatives of state and national organizations who presented an overview of EF, including its evidence base and value for adults with arthritis. Additionally, a panel of individuals who have worked to implement EF shared their experiences, including challenges and successes. Roundtables were also used to identify major challenges to expand EF and potential strategies to implement the program more widely. Learn more about the Michigan roundtable

As a follow-up to these roundtables four community organizations in Florida and Michigan have been identified and will receive funding in 2014 to implement the EnhanceFitness program. Through these roundtables and follow-up activities, community organizations continue to demonstrate a commitment to address arthritis at a local level. Furthermore, important partnerships have been built between medical, public health, and business communities to reduce arthritis burden and improve health.

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  • Arthritis Program
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    4770 Buford Hwy NE
    Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
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