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J Rheumatol. 1997 Jan;24(1):169-73.

Characteristics of persons with self-reported arthritis and other rheumatic conditions who do not see a doctor.

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  • 1Division of Training, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



To characterize persons with self-reported arthritis and other rheumatic conditions who never saw a doctor for their condition.


Comparison of 2 groups (persons who did and did not see a doctor for arthritis) identified from cross sectional data from the 1989 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a stratified random probability sample representative of the US civilian noninstitutionalized population. Survey respondents aged 18 years and older who answered questions on musculoskeletal conditions and self-reported arthritis (n = 2944 unweighted; 36 million weighted) were asked when they last saw a doctor for this condition.


Of adult Americans who reported arthritis, 16.4% reported never seeing a doctor for this problem. This group was more often male and younger than those who saw a doctor for arthritis. Persons were less likely to see a doctor for arthritis if they had better self-perceived health, fewer activity or work limitations due to arthritis, no health insurance, and if they were not overweight. Of those who reported never visiting a doctor for arthritis, 72.8% reported one or more doctor visits within the preceding 12 months. Weighted estimates indicate that nearly 6 million Americans with self-reported arthritis never see a doctor for their condition, including 191,000 with activity limitations due to arthritis. About 4.3 million of the 6 million people with arthritis reported at least one doctor visit within the previous 12 months.


A "better" health profile and lack of health insurance may explain why some people do not see a doctor for arthritis. A substantial number, however, have both severe disease as well as health insurance that covers doctor visits for other medical problems. These visits represent missed opportunities for early diagnosis and effective medical and behavioral intervention.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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