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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 implemented at a variety of levels and by a variety of entities and partners. They 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 to dissemination of evidence-based interventions. Policy strategies for arthritis also have the potential to positively impact chronic conditions that commonly co-occur with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Read more about the CDC Arthritis Program's policy activities and documents.

GearsPolicy 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 policy brief for legislators provides an overview of the public health problem of arthritis, including discussions 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. The full text of the Legisbrief is available [PDF - 259KB].

    Read more information 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. Talking points are also on arthritis, including reasons for concern, costs of arthritis, effects of arthritis, public health policies that work to reduce the effects of arthritis, and what state legislators can do are included. Examples of state legislative action to address arthritis are also provided. The full text of the policy brief may be accessed here [PDF - 376KB].

    Read more information about the Council of State Governments.

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Policy Position Documents

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

    A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis (2010) was developed by more than 70 stakeholders following a call-to-action led by the Arthritis Foundation and CDC. A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis sets the stage for a collaborative and focused action to achieve the following three overall goals during the next 3 to 5 years:
    • Ensure the availability of evidence-based intervention strategies; such as, self management education, physical activity, injury prevention, and weight management, and healthy nutrition to all Americans with osteoarthritis (OA).
    • Establish supportive policies, communication initiatives, and strategic alliances for OA prevention and management.
    • Initiate needed research to better understand the burden of OA, its risk factors, and effective strategies for intervention.

    The Agenda for OA is geared to serve as a blueprint for action and sets forth 10 strategy recommendations to reduce OA symptoms such as pain, disability, and loss of function. More information and the full text of the agenda is available.

  • 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 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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 across the following three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. For more information and the full text of the NAAP, visit the Arthritis Foundation.

  • Arthritis At-A-Glance: Meeting the Challenge of Living Well, 2012 CDC

    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. Read the complete Arthritis At-A-Glance.
  • The Arthritis Foundation’s Policy and Environmental Strategies to Increase Physical Activity among Adults with Arthritis

    The Arthritis Foundation (through a cooperative agreement with CDC) identified policy and environmental strategies for increasing physical activity among adults with arthritis. 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 initiative focuses 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 is currently working on an Implementation Guide, which can be used in implementing the policy and environmental strategies contained in the document.

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Policy Activities

  • 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 of the OA Agenda. CDC, the Arthritis Foundation, and nearly 40 partner organizations are working together to reduce the burden of osteoarthritis through strategies that address self-management education, 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.

  • National Arthritis Policy Platform (NAPP)

    The Arthritis Foundation (through a cooperative agreement with CDC) is developing a National Arthritis Policy Platform (NAPP). The NAPP will include policy analysis and a prioritized policy agenda that can be used to increase awareness and provide education on the burden of arthritis on health, quality of life, and the ability to manage other chronic diseases. The NAPP will be used to elevate arthritis issues to ensure that they are consistently considered and addressed at state, federal, and local levels, as well as in initiatives, programs, outreach, health communications, and research aimed at impacting chronic diseases.

  • National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Arthritis Focus Group

    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 an Arthritis Focus Group at the NCSL annual meeting. The goal of the focus group was to gain an understanding of the effects of arthritis and its economic and health burdens; provide the opportunity to consider and discuss public health efforts that may reduce the burden of arthritis; and help experts learn from participants about their recommendations for communicating with state policymakers about arthritis.

  • YMCA Association Arthritis Roundtables

    NACDD (through a cooperative agreement with CDC) is planning to co-sponsor roundtables with YMCA Associations located in Florida and Michigan. The roundtables will involve the regional community including key leaders, media, providers, and national partners. The goal of the roundtables will be to educate community leaders on the issues around arthritis burden, cost, co-morbidities, evidence-based interventions, and related issues.

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