Self-reported hand and wrist arthritis and occupation: data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey-Occupational Health Supplement

Am J Ind Med. 2002 Oct;42(4):318-27. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10117.


Background: There is a paucity of population-based studies examining occupational hand-wrist arthritis. We examined relationships between hand-wrist arthritis, occupation, and biomechanical exposures in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey-Occupational Health Supplement.

Methods: A randomized, multi-stage, and cross-sectional national prevalence survey was carried out.

Results: Self-reported, medically attended hand-wrist arthritis was common among employed persons (period prevalence 1.58%; lifetime prevalence 3.58%). Highest prevalences occurred among technicians, machine operators, assemblers, and farmers, and in the mining, agriculture, and construction industries. Work requiring repetitive hand bending and twisting was associated with hand-wrist arthritis (Odds Ratio 1.43; 95%CI: 1.11-1.84; P = 0.005). Among workers with hand arthritis, 7.4% had made major changes in their work, 7.6% missed work, and 4.5% stopped working or changed jobs because of the problem.

Conclusions: Our study links hand-wrist arthritis to occupation and potentially modifiable workplace ergonomic factors. The spectrum of hand-wrist "cumulative trauma" disorders may considerably exceed that of soft-tissue injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, and may include arthritis, a widely prevalent, disabling condition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / epidemiology*
  • Arthritis / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hand*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Disclosure
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wrist*