Objective: We present national and state estimates for 1990 and projections for the year 2020 of the prevalence of self-reported arthritis and other rheumatic diseases and related activity limitations. We further suggest a research and policy agenda to address this important and growing public health problem.
Methods: Estimates and projections were derived from household interviews conducted for the 1989-1991 National Health Interview Survey, and were applied to United States census population estimates for 1990 and projections for 2020.
Results: The prevalence rate of self-reported arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States is projected to increase from 15.0% (37.9 million) of the 1990 population to 18.2% (59.4 million) of the estimated 2020 population. Activity limitation attributed to these conditions is projected to increase from 2.8% (7.0 million) of the 1990 population to 3.6% (11.6 million) of the 2020 population. Prevalence rates were higher for older persons, women, residents of nonmetropolitan areas, and those with less education or lower income.
Conclusions: Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are frequent and disabling public health problems now, and are projected to become even more so by 2020. Implementing the suggested research and public health agenda could reduce the occurrence and impact of these conditions.