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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017 May 26;66(20):527-532. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6620a2.

Prevalence of Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation by Urban-Rural County Classification - United States, 2015.

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Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.


Rural populations in the United States have well documented health disparities, including higher prevalences of chronic health conditions (1,2). Doctor-diagnosed arthritis is one of the most prevalent health conditions (22.7%) in the United States, affecting approximately 54.4 million adults (3). The impact of arthritis is considerable: an estimated 23.7 million adults have arthritis-attributable activity limitation (AAAL). The age-standardized prevalence of AAAL increased nearly 20% from 2002 to 2015 (3). Arthritis prevalence varies widely by state (range = 19%-36%) and county (range = 16%-39%) (4). Despite what is known about arthritis prevalence at the national, state, and county levels and the substantial impact of arthritis, little is known about the prevalence of arthritis and AAAL across urban-rural areas overall and among selected subgroups. To estimate the prevalence of arthritis and AAAL by urban-rural categories CDC analyzed data from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The unadjusted prevalence of arthritis in the most rural areas was 31.8% (95% confidence intervals [CI] = 31.0%-32.5%) and in the most urban, was 20.5% (95% CI = 20.1%-21.0%). The unadjusted AAAL prevalence among adults with arthritis was 55.3% in the most rural areas and 49.7% in the most urban. Approximately 1 in 3 adults in the most rural areas have arthritis and over half of these adults have AAAL. Wider use of evidence-based interventions including physical activity and self-management education in rural areas might help reduce the impact of arthritis and AAAL.

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