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Arthritis, Other Chronic Disease Takes Toll on Work Force

Arthritis + other chronic health conditions may keep up to one-third affected out of workplace

FRIDAY, June 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Among adults with one or more chronic conditions, those with arthritis appear much more likely than those without arthritis to have work disability, according to research published in the June 5 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jin Qin, Sc.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey. Among adults with one chronic condition, the researchers found that those whose chronic condition was arthritis were 15.8 percent more likely to have work disability, compared to 8.6 percent of those with a non-arthritis chronic condition. Social activities were also more difficult for people with arthritis. Nearly 4 percent with arthritis said they had trouble participating in social activities, compared to 2.1 percent who didn't have arthritis.

In adults with two or more chronic conditions, those with arthritis were more likely than those without arthritis to have work disability (30.7 versus 22.5 percent), according to the 2013 national data. In addition, among people with two or more conditions, those with arthritis also had more difficulty taking part in social activities (10.4 versus 6.3 percent). And, those with arthritis were more likely to have significant mental distress (9.9 versus 6.8 percent).

"It is important to include arthritis in discussions addressing the negative effects of multiple chronic conditions and the interventions needed to counter those effects. Inexpensive, proven, but underused strategies can help adults with arthritis and/or other chronic conditions have better quality-of-life outcomes," the authors write. "These strategies include physical activity, maintaining healthy weight, and participating in self-management programs that have been shown to reduce pain and disability, improve function, and address arthritis barriers to physical activity, such as joint pain."

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