Poorer Kids With Juvenile Arthritis Fare Worse

In study, lower family income meant lower quality of life

TUESDAY, May 30, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Lower family income can reduce quality of life for kids with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a new study of Medicaid recipients shows.

Children who live in low-income families suffer more disability and have a lower health-related quality of life than those in middle- or high-income families, according to study in the June issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center evaluated 295 children with juvenile RA. The children were divided into two groups: Those covered by Medicaid or similar coverage under state programs for low-income families of children with chronic diseases (considered to be an indicator of low socioeconomic status), and those with private health insurance (considered to be an indicator of middle-to-high socioeconomic status).

The children in the Medicaid group tended to have more joints affected by arthritis and also had somewhat higher disease activity, more pain, and a lower level of well-being than children with private health insurance.

Children covered by Medicaid also had greater disability and fewer of them had normal physical function, compared to children with private insurance.

"Similar to results found in studies of other pediatric diseases, the results of this study support the theory that Medicaid status is associated with more disability and lower health-related quality of life, even in the absence of apparent differences in health care resource utilization," the study authors wrote.

It's not clear why insurance status is associated with poorer quality of life but factors such as poverty and non-adherence to prescribed treatments may play a role, the researchers suggested. They urged further studies.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation has more about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., news release, May 26, 2006
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