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Program Descriptions Wisconsin

Wisconsin Arthritis Program

State Burden

Approximately 1 million or 25% of Wisconsin’s adult population report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. According to the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), about 55% of adults over 65 years have arthritis, compared to 32% of adults aged 45–64 years and 9% of adults aged 18–44 years.
Other Wisconsin arthritis-related information in 2009:

  • More women (28%) than men (22%) have arthritis.
  • The prevalence of arthritis among racial and ethnic groups was 26% for whites and 22% for African Americans.1
  • About 32% of working age adults (18-64 years) report that arthritis affects their work for pay.
  • Of people with arthritis, 42% are obese.
  • Approximately 1 in 4 (26%) of people with arthritis reported their health as fair or poor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that arthritis and other rheumatic diseases cost Wisconsin $2.4 billion in 2003. This amounts to $1.5 billion in direct costs (ambulatory care, hospitalizations) and $900 million in indirect costs (disability, lost productivity).

1 Percentage of Hispanics with arthritis could not be estimated due to small sample size.


Wisconsin Arthritis Action Council

The Wisconsin Arthritis Action Council’s membership includes approximately 25 health care professionals, educators, hospital administrators, consumers, organizations promoting physical activity, local and state health departments, the state unit on aging, and community-based organizations. The Council is open to individuals who share the same vision and are interested in developing new partnerships to improve the lives of people with arthritis.

Key Partners

The Wisconsin Arthritis Program maintains a variety of relationships to improve the quality of life for people living with arthritis. The following partners are pivotal in implementing the state plan, increasing awareness and education, and expanding evidence-based programming.

  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health Chronic Disease Prevention Programs including; Asthma, Comprehensive Cancer Control, Diabetes Prevention and Control, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention, Minority Health Office, and Tobacco Prevention and Control
  • Regional and Local Public Health Departments
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Long Term Care and the network of aging services in Wisconsin including the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources and local Aging and Disability Resource Centers
  • Milwaukee Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
  • Arthritis Foundation-Wisconsin Chapter
  • Wisconsin Arthritis Action Council

Intervention and Partnership Highlights

  • Contracting with Milwaukee AHEC to coordinate the Arthritis Program. The program coordinator based in Milwaukee, partners with Milwaukee’s diverse priority populations and with the statewide chronic disease programs.
  • Conducting a series of the CDC developed public awareness communications campaigns in Wisconsin communities. The Program conducted campaigns in the following communities: Milwaukee’s African American community (2004, 2009, and 2010); Milwaukee’s Hispanic/Latino community (2005, 2010/2011), the City of Beloit (2005), Oneida County (2006), Chippewa County (2007), Manitowoc County (2008), Kenosha County (2009), Marathon and Wood Counties (2009, 2010).

The Wisconsin Arthritis Program supports and promotes the following interventions:

  • Living Well with Chronic Conditions (Chronic Disease Self Management)
    (6 consecutive sessions) Certified instructors teach this six week self-management education workshop. People with different chronic diseases, including arthritis, attend together. It teaches the skills needed in the day-to-day management of chronic disease and to maintain or increase activities of daily living. Participants build self-esteem for increasing physical activity, managing symptoms, making healthier choices, managing stress and emotions, communicating with friends, family, and health professionals, solving problems, and setting goals.
  • Tomando Control de Su Salud (Living Well with Chronic Conditions also known as Chronic Disease Self Management) workshop conducted entirely in Spanish.
  • Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (Ongoing) This program can be modified for different fitness levels with exercise done while standing, sitting, or on the floor. This program uses gentle activity to help increase joint flexibility and range of motion and maintain muscle strength. Participants enjoy a recreational program that can help reduce pain and stiffness and improve self-esteem and well-being.
  • Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Program (Ongoing) Trained personnel lead program participants through a series of activities designed to help improve joint flexibility and muscle strength with the aid of the water’s buoyancy and resistance. The warm water and gentle movement also can relieve pain and stiffness. The program is operated in cooperation with local Y.M.C.A.’s, Y.W.C.A’s, health clubs and other recreational facilities throughout the state.
  • Walk with Ease (6 consecutive weeks) Trained leaders teach this is a six week walking program that meets for one hour, three times a week. The Walk with Ease program helps individuals develop a walking plan that meets particular needs, assists in staying motivated, managing pain, and teaching to exercise safely. It is an important part of helping to keep muscles strong and joints stable. Walk with Ease will help boost energy, reduce stress and control weight.

Program Documents

Contact Information

Sherri Ohly
WI Arthritis Program Coordinator
Div. of Public Health, Dept. of Health Services
Milwaukee Area Health Education Center
2224 W. Kilbourn Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Telephone: 414-344-0675 ext. 226
Fax: 414-344-0677
E-mail: sohly@milahec.org

Nancy E. Chudy, MPH
Epidemiologist
Wisconsin Division of Public Health
Bureau of Community Health Promotion
Chronic Disease Prevention & Cancer Control
1 West Wilson Street, Rm 233
Madison, WI 53701

Telephone: 608.266.2593
E-mail: Nancy.Chudy@wisconsin.gov

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