Prevalence of chronic musculoskeletal conditions and associated factors in Brazilian adults - National Health Survey

BMC Public Health. 2018 Feb 27;18(1):287. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5192-4.


Background: Chronic non-communicable diseases entail high impact on health systems in Brazil and worldwide. Among the most frequent are the musculoskeletal conditions which comprise a group of diseases that influence individuals' physical status, quality of life and functional capacity. Epidemiological studies investigating the scale of such conditions in the adult population are scarce in Brazil. This study estimates the prevalence of chronic musculoskeletal conditions and their association with demographic, socioeconomic, behavioural and clinical factors.

Methods: Cross-sectional study with data from Brazil's 2013 National Health Survey (Pesquisa Nacional de Saúde), a nationwide household survey of 60,202 adults. Musculoskeletal conditions were specified by self-reported medical diagnosis of arthritis or rheumatism and self-reported spinal disorders. The variables were examined using a hierarchical model of determination. Prevalences of musculoskeletal conditions were calculated with their respective 95% confidence intervals for Brazil and its five regions. Prevalence ratios (PRs) were obtained by Poisson regression with robust variance.

Results: Of the 60,202 individuals evaluated, 21.6% presented musculoskeletal conditions, with higher prevalences for females, older adults, indigenous, those living with a partner, low education, no occupational activity, those living in the South Region of Brazil, in rural areas, daily smokers, sedentary, obese, those who did not drink alcohol, with depressive symptoms or suffering from three or more chronic diseases. Multivariate analysis identified strong associations with advanced age (PR = 3.61; 95% CI 3.27-3.98), depressive symptoms (PR = 1.69; 95% CI 1.57-1.81) and multimorbidity (PR = 1.94; 95% CI 1.77-2.12).

Conclusions: The results show high prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions in Brazil's adult population. Considering the process of aging and steady growth in chronic diseases, this study underlines the need for health policies directed to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation for people affected by chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

Keywords: Brazil; Chronic morbidities; Cross-section study; Epidemiology; Musculoskeletal conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult