Aim: To estimate the prevalence of rheumatic diseases in Lebanon and to explore their distribution by geographic location, age, and gender.
Method: Using the Community Oriented Program for the Control of Rheumatic Diseases (COPCORD) methodology, a random sample of 3530 individuals aged 15 and above was interviewed from the six Lebanese governorates. Positive respondents were evaluated by rheumatologists using the internationally accepted classification criterion of the American College of Rheumatology for the diagnosis of rheumatic diseases.
Results: Prevalence rates of current and past musculoskeletal problems were 24.4% and 8.4%, respectively. Shoulder (14.3%), knee (14.2%) and back (13.6%) were the most common pain sites. Point prevalence of rheumatic diseases was 15.0%. The most frequent types of rheumatic diseases were of mechanical origin, namely soft tissue rheumatism (5.8%) and osteoarthritis (4.0%). Rheumatoid arthritis (1.0%) and spondylathropathies (0.3%) constituted the most common inflammatory diseases. Coastal areas had the lowest prevalence of all diseases except for fibromyalgia. All diseases showed an increasing prevalence pattern with age and a higher prevalence among women than men.
Conclusion: This is the first study to give population-based estimates of rheumatic diseases in Lebanon. The high burden calls for public health attention for early detection, control and prevention of these conditions. Point prevalence of individual diseases was within the range of results from other COPCORD surveys with some variations that can be attributed to differences in methodology and geo-ethnic factors.
© 2011 The Authors. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases © 2011 Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.