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Blacks, Hispanics at Higher Risk of Disabling Arthritis

Comorbid conditions, lack of health insurance and behavior may increase the risk of disability

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Black and Hispanic arthritis patients are more than twice as likely as white patients to report some level of disability in regard to performing activities of daily living, according to a report in the August issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Jing Song, M.S., of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues reviewed 1998-2004 data from the Health and Retirement Study, which included 7,257 arthritis patients who were initially free of disability. The respondents included white, black, and English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Hispanics. They were asked about difficulty with dressing, walking across the room, getting out of bed, bathing, eating and toileting.

Overall, one in six respondents reported disability in at least one activity of daily living during the six-year follow-up period. Black and English- and Spanish-speaking Hispanics had twice the rate of disability as their white counterparts. These differences were related to the presence comorbid conditions, functional limitations, unhealthful behaviors and lack of health insurance.

"At the clinical level, treatment of comorbid conditions, functional limitations and promotion of physical activity and weight maintenance should be a priority to prevent the development of disability, especially in minority populations," the study authors reported.

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