Objective: To provide a single source for the best available estimates of the US prevalence of and number of individuals affected by arthritis overall, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, the spondylarthritides, systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, and Sjögren's syndrome. A companion article (part II) addresses additional conditions.
Methods: The National Arthritis Data Workgroup reviewed published analyses from available national surveys, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). For analysis of overall arthritis, we used the NHIS. Because data based on national population samples are unavailable for most specific rheumatic conditions, we derived estimates from published studies of smaller, defined populations. For specific conditions, the best available prevalence estimates were applied to the corresponding 2005 US population estimates from the Census Bureau, to estimate the number affected with each condition.
Results: More than 21% of US adults (46.4 million persons) were found to have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis. We estimated that rheumatoid arthritis affects 1.3 million adults (down from the estimate of 2.1 million for 1995), juvenile arthritis affects 294,000 children, spondylarthritides affect from 0.6 million to 2.4 million adults, systemic lupus erythematosus affects from 161,000 to 322,000 adults, systemic sclerosis affects 49,000 adults, and primary Sjögren's syndrome affects from 0.4 million to 3.1 million adults.
Conclusion: Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions continue to be a large and growing public health problem. Estimates for many specific rheumatic conditions rely on a few, small studies of uncertain generalizability to the US population. This report provides the best available prevalence estimates for the US, but for most specific conditions, more studies generalizable to the US or addressing understudied populations are needed.