Objective. To estimate the public health impact of self-reported arthritis in terms of Quality-Adjusted Life Years.
Method. The Quality of Well-Being Scale (QWB) is a general measure of health-related quality of life that scores levels of wellness on a continuum between death (0.0) and optimum functioning (1.0). Values for the QWB were imputed for the National Health Interview Survey. These estimates were adjusted for mortality based on the life tables. Age-specific estimates were obtained for those reporting arthritis and compared to estimators for the population not reporting arthritis. These estimates were broken down by race (white versus nonwhite), gender, and socioeconomic status.
Results. The expected life years lost because of arthritis were 1.86 (95% confidence interval 1.40–2.32 years). Arthritis was reported more often among those of lower income, those living in rural areas, those of lower educational attainment, and older respondents. Men and women did not differ in rates of reporting arthritis, but men with arthritis had lower QWB scores than women with arthritis.
Conclusion. Arthritis has a significant public health impact.