Gender differences in functional limitations among Canadians with arthritis: the role of disease duration and comorbidity

Health Rep. 2011 Dec;22(4):7-14.


Background: Mechanisms underlying gender disparities in functional limitations among people with arthritis remain unclear. This study examined gender differences in the relationship between disease duration and comorbidity and functional limitations among people with arthritis.

Data and methods: Data were from the arthritis component of the 2009 Survey on Living with Chronic Diseases in Canada. People were considered to have functional limitations if they reported that arthritis limits them "a lot" in activities of daily living. Those with no functional limitations were the reference group. Gender-stratified weighted multivariate binary logistic regression analyses were conducted.

Results: In a fully adjusted multivariate analysis, only among women was time elapsed since the arthritis diagnosis associated with functional limitations. Disabling and life-threatening chronic conditions were associated with functional limitations in both genders. Among men, obesity and low household income were associated with higher odds of functional limitations, while living in British Columbia was associated with decreased odds. For women, smoking, not engaging in physical activity, residing in a non-Atlantic province, and having excess weight increased the odds of functional limitations, while habitual alcohol drinking decreased the odds.

Interpretation: Gender differences in the risks of reporting functional limitations were significant. These differences appear to be driven by duration of having arthritis, and disparities in health behavioural factors, household income and region of residence. The association between chronic conditions and functional limitations was similar for men and women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis / complications
  • Arthritis / epidemiology*
  • Arthritis / physiopathology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Canada
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Disabled Persons
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors