Socioeconomic Disparities in the Health of African Americans With Rheumatoid Arthritis From the Southeastern United States




To examine cross-sectional baseline data from the Consortium for the Longitudinal Evaluation of African Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis registry for the association between socioeconomic status (SES) with clinical and self-report health outcomes.


We analyzed data on 937 African Americans who provided comprehensive sociodemographic data in addition to self-reported health outcomes. SES measures included educational attainment, homeownership, household income, and occupation. Outcomes included measures of disease activity, joint damage, autoantibody status, and self-reported measures. Multivariable linear, logistic, and zero-inflated Poisson regression models were used to estimate associations of each SES measure with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) outcomes, controlling for sex, age, disease duration, comorbid conditions, body mass index, smoking, methotrexate/leflunomide use, and biologic agent use.


The mean age was 54 years, 86% were women, and the mean RA disease duration was 7.8 years. Approximately 24% had less than a high school degree, 56% had a nonprofessional occupation, 75% had a household income ≤$30,000, and 55% were nonhomeowners. In multivariable regression models, significantly increased associations of disease activity measures and self-reported health outcomes were observed with low household income (≤$30,000/year) and nonhomeownership. Education less than high school was primarily associated with self-reported health outcomes. Among participants with disease duration <2 years, associations of SES were confined to self-reported measures.


Our results indicate significant socioeconomic disparities in self-reported physical and mental health, clinical disease activity measures, and autoantibody status among African Americans with RA not explained by differences in demographics, medication use, and health behaviors.