Arthritis is the most common chronic condition and the most common cause of disability among older US adults. We studied social participation, disabilities in many life domains, accommodations used (buffers), and accommodations needed (barriers) for US adults with arthritis disability compared with adults with disability from other conditions.
The data source is the National Health Interview Survey Disability Supplement Phase Two. Arthritis-disabled individuals named arthritis as the main cause of ≥1 disabilities. Other-disabled individuals named only other conditions as causes of their disabilities. We compared outcomes for the groups, taking sample weights and complex variances into account.
Arthritis-disabled individuals get out and about less often than other-disabled individuals, but they manage to maintain active social ties. They have more disabilities of all types (personal care, household management, physical tasks, transportation, home, work), and the disabilities often cause fatigue, long task time, and pain. Despite this, arthritis-disabled individuals use less personal assistance than other-disabled individuals; they do use more equipment assistance. Arthritis-disabled individuals report more barriers in getting around outside their home and at their workplace.
The distinctive profile of arthritis disability includes extensive and uncomfortable disabilities, yet there are active management strategies to handle these disabilities. Problems away from home and at work should inspire engineers and planners to improve public access and equipment for persons with this high-prevalence disability.