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Ann Rheum Dis. 2001 Nov; 60(11): 1040–1045.
PMCID: PMC1753418

The burden of musculoskeletal diseases in the general population of Spain: results from a national survey


OBJECTIVE—The objective of the EPISER study was to estimate the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), low back pain, hand and knee osteoarthritis (OA), and fibromyalgia in the adult Spanish population, and to assess the impact of these diseases on function and quality of life, and use of health and social resources.
METHODS—2998 subjects aged 20 years or above were randomly selected by stratified multistage cluster sampling from the censuses of 20 municipalities. Trained rheumatologists carried out structured visits at which subjects were asked about rheumatic symptoms and sociodemographic characteristics, completed validated instruments for measuring function (HAQ) and quality of life (SF-12), and underwent a standardised physical examination. Cases were defined by previously validated criteria.
RESULTS—The estimated prevalences with 95% confidence intervals were as follows: RA lifetime cumulative: 0.5% (0.3 to 0.9); low back pain: 14.8% (12.2 to 17.4); symptomatic knee OA: 10.2% (8.5 to 11.9); hand OA: 6.2% (5.9 to 6.5); fibromyalgia: 2.4% (1.5 to 3.2). Most conditions significantly impaired function and quality of life.
CONCLUSIONS—The EPISER study has internal and external validity for application of the results to the adult Spanish population. The diseases studied affect a significant proportion of the population, with various degrees of impact on disability and quality of life resulting in a significant number of physician visits, work disability, and medication use.

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Selected References

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Figures and Tables

Figure 1
Map of Spain showing the 20 municipalities selected for the EPISER study. Each area in the same shade represents one stratum. Under the name of the city or village selected, the number of the eligible population (>20 years) is shown. ...
Figure 2
EPISER study: flow chart of response to the survey.    

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