Arthritis prevalence and activity limitations in older adults

Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Jan;44(1):212-21. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200101)44:1<212::AID-ANR28>3.0.CO;2-Q.


Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of arthritis and activity limitations among older Americans by assessing their demographic, ethnic, and economic characteristics.

Methods: Data from the Asset and Health Dynamic Survey Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD), a national probability sample of community-dwelling adults born before 1924, were analyzed cross-sectionally. Arthritis that resulted in a physician's visit or a joint replacement not associated with a hip fracture was ascertained by self-report.

Results: The prevalence of arthritis in older adults ranged from 25% in non-Hispanic whites to 40% in non-Hispanic blacks to 44% in Hispanics. A higher prevalence of arthritis was associated with less education as well as lower income and less wealth. The prevalence of limitations in activities of daily living (ADL) among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic adults who reported arthritis only was 29%, 30%, and 37%, respectively, and increased to 48%, 57%, and 56%, respectively, among those reporting arthritis plus other chronic conditions, after adjustment for age and sex.

Conclusion: Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic older adults reported having arthritis at a substantially higher frequency than did non-Hispanic whites. In addition, Hispanics reported higher rates of ADL limitations than did non-Hispanic whites with comparable disease burden. Further study is needed to confirm and elucidate the reasons for these racial and economic disparities in older populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis / epidemiology*
  • Arthritis / ethnology
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Racial Groups
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires