Objective: To identify characteristics and behaviors among persons with arthritis through evaluation of self-perceived mental health status.
Methods: Data were analyzed for adults with arthritis age 45 years or older from the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing, state-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey of noninstitutionalized adults living in the United States.
Results: The prevalence of frequent mental distress (FMD; > or =14 self-reported mentally unhealthy days in the past 30 days) among persons with arthritis was 13.4%. Among persons with arthritis, those with FMD as compared with those without FMD were more likely to be underweight and obese than normal weight; they also were more likely to be insufficiently active or inactive than following recommended physical activity guidelines. In addition, those with arthritis and FMD were more likely to report disability and impaired physical and general health than were those with arthritis but without FMD.
Conclusion: Physicians should encourage their patients with arthritis and mental distress to participate in educational and behavioral interventions shown to have both physical and psychological benefits.