Prevalence and correlates of arthritis-attributable work limitation in the US population among persons ages 18–64: 2002 National Health Interview Survey Data


  • The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



To estimate the national prevalence of arthritis-attributable work limitation (AAWL) among persons ages 18–64 with doctor-diagnosed arthritis and examine correlates of AAWL.


Using the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, we estimated the prevalence of AAWL (limited in whether individuals work, the type of work they do, or the amount of work they do) and correlates of AAWL in univariable and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analyses. Survey data were analyzed in SAS and SUDAAN to account for the complex sample design.


A total of 5.3% of all US adults ages 18–64 reported AAWL; in this age group, AAWL is reported by ∼30% of those who report arthritis. The prevalence of AAWL was highest among people ages 45–64 years (10.2%), women (6.3%), non-Hispanic blacks (7.7%), people with less than a high school education (8.6%), and those with an annual household income <$20,000 (12.6%). AAWL was substantially increased among people with arthritis-attributable activity limitations (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio [OR] 9.1, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 7.1–11.6). The multivariable-adjusted likelihood of AAWL was moderately higher among non-Hispanic blacks (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.2–2.3), Hispanics (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2–2.6), and people with high levels of functional/social/leisure limitations (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.4–2.3) and was decreased among those with a college education (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4–0.8).


AAWL is highly prevalent, affecting millions of Americans and one-third of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Findings suggest the need for more targeted research to better understand the natural history, success of interventions, and effects of policy on AAWL. Public health interventions, including self-management education programs, may be effective in countering AAWL.