Objective: To develop Canadian projections for the prevalence and numbers of people with arthritis and arthritis disability, overall and in major age groups.
Methods: Age and sex specific data from the 1991 General Social Survey and the 1994 National Population Health Survey on the prevalence of arthritis and arthritis disability were applied to population projections for Canada for every 5 years between 1991 and 2031.
Results: Between 1991 and 2031 we project that the prevalence of arthritis diagnosed by a health professional as a longterm condition in Canada will increase from 10.7 to 15.7%, an increase of 46.7%, and the number of people with arthritis will increase from 2.9 to 6.5 million, an increase of 124%. Comparable changes in prevalence and numbers of people with self-reported arthritis are 17.1% (4.7 million) to 23.6% (9.7 million). Most of the increase will be in the population aged 45+, and not until after 2020 will the comparative increase in the 65+ age group be greater than that for the 45-64 age group. Disability attributed to arthritis in the population aged 15+ is projected to increase from a prevalence of 2.3% (595,000) in 1991 to 3.3% (1.13 million) in 2031.
Conclusion: There are large projected increases in both the prevalence and numbers of people with arthritis and arthritis related disability that, at least in the next 20 years, will be split between the older half of the working population and those aged 65 and older.