Problems experienced by people with arthritis when using a computer




To describe the prevalence of computer use problems experienced by a sample of people with arthritis, and to determine differences in the magnitude of these problems among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), and fibromyalgia (FM).


Subjects were recruited from the Arthritis Network Disease Registry and asked to complete a survey, the Computer Problems Survey, which was developed for this study. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the total sample and the 3 diagnostic subgroups. Ordinal regressions were used to determine differences between the diagnostic subgroups with respect to each equipment item while controlling for confounding demographic variables.


A total of 359 respondents completed a survey. Of the 315 respondents who reported using a computer, 84% reported a problem with computer use attributed to their underlying disorder, and ∼77% reported some discomfort related to computer use. Equipment items most likely to account for problems and discomfort were the chair, keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Of the 3 subgroups, significantly more respondents with FM reported more severe discomfort, more problems, and greater limitations related to computer use than those with RA or OA for all 4 equipment items.


Computer use is significantly affected by arthritis. This could limit the ability of a person with arthritis to participate in work and home activities. Further study is warranted to delineate disease-related limitations and develop interventions to reduce them.