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Doctor and patientMonitoring Healthy People 2010 Arthritis Management Objectives: Self-Management Education and Clinician Counseling for Weight Loss and Exercise

Healthy People 2010 and Healthy People 2020 both include objectives to increase self-management education and clinician counseling for weight loss and physical activity among adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis. This study used National Health Interview Survey data to monitor changes for these objectives from 2002 through 2006. The proportion of overweight and obese adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis who were counseled by their clinicians to lose weight to lessen their arthritis symptoms increased significantly from 35.0% in 2002 to 41.3% in 2006. The receipt of weight counseling was highest among those who were women, aged 45–64 years, obese, or non-Hispanic black in 2006.

Unfortunately, there was no change in the proportion of all adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis who had ever taken an arthritis education class or who had been counseled to engage in physical activity from 2002 to 2006. Self-management education for arthritis has been shown to improve health-related quality of life among adults with arthritis while physical activity is recognized to reduce joint pain and disability and to increase function.

Although some progress has been made in counseling for weight loss, most patients with arthritis are not receiving crucial health behavior counseling from their health care providers, nor are they availing themselves of effective arthritis education. Because health care provider counseling can powerfully affect patient behavior, this represents a missed opportunity to improve their patients’ outcomes through non-pharmacological interventions proven to reduce arthritis pain, activity limitation, and disability.

By assessing weight status, physical activity level and self-management knowledge/skills at every visit for adults with arthritis, health care providers can provide appropriate counseling and referrals to proven community-based programs as needed to improve their patients’ health.


Do BT, Hootman JM, Helmick CG, Brady TJ. Monitoring Healthy People 2010 arthritis management objectives: self-management education and clinician counseling for weight loss and exercise. Annals of Family Medicine 2011;9(2):136–141.

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