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Spotlight Arthritis Impact

Arthritis Impact Worse Among Minorities

Picture of different familiesMay is National Arthritis Month and in observance, CDC released today new national data on the prevalence and impact of arthritis by race and ethnicity. This study, reported in the May 2010 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, reports first ever estimates of arthritis prevalence for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (8%) and American Indians/Alaska Natives (25%) while the prevalence of arthritis among the other racial and ethnic groups was non-Hispanic whites 23.8%, non-Hispanic blacks 19.4%, Hispanics 11.1% and multiracial/other 20.7%.

This study analyzed three years of data from the National Health Interview Survey that allowed CDC to estimate prevalence of arthritis for smaller race and ethnic groups that are usually grouped together in a ‘non-Hispanic other” category when reporting health statistics. Other findings from this study include the following:

  • Among adults with arthritis, 37.7% report activity limitation, 31.2% work limitation and 25.6% report severe pain (7 or higher on a 0–10 point scale).
  • Compared with whites, blacks and Hispanics have higher rates of activity limitation and severe pain.

This graph shows prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis using combined data from the 2002, 2003, and 2006 National Health Interview Survey. The estimated unadjusted prevalence (percent) and weighted number of adults with arthritis for each group was whites, 24% (36 million); blacks, 19% (4.6 million); Hispanics, 11% (2.9 million); AI/AN, 25% (280,000); API, 8% (667,000); and MRO, 21% (469,000).

“It is imperative that we address these stark differences in arthritis impact by using what we know — increasing physical activity and self-management education programs that have been proven to reduce pain and improve physical function,” said Dr. Jennifer Hootman, coauthor and epidemiologist with CDC’s Arthritis Program. CDC recommends four self-management and six physical activity programs for people with arthritis including a Spanish language self-management education program Tomando Control de su Salud. In addition, Spanish language health communication materials, Buenos Dias, Artritis, are available here.


Bolen J, Schieb L, Hootman JM, Helmick CG, Theis K, Murphy LB, et al. Differences in the prevalence and impact of arthritis among racial/ethnic groups in the United States, National Health Interview Survey, 2002, 2003, and 2006. Prev Chronic Dis 2010;7(3). html pdf [319KB]

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