CDC Releases First State-by-State Data on Work Limitations Caused by Arthritis

WORK limitation due to arthritis in all working-age adults ranges from a low of 3.4 percent in Hawaii to a high of 15 percent in Kentucky, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study that provides the first ever state-by-state data on adults experiencing work limitations caused by arthritis.

The proportion of working-age adults with arthritis who reported that the disease was severe enough to limit their ability to work ranged from 25.1 percent in Nevada to 51.3 percent in Kentucky, CDC stated.

The study, "State-specific Prevalence of Arthritis-Attributable Work Limitation -- United States, 2003," was released in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The data on arthritis-attributable work limitation covers adults aged 18 to 64 in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

"These findings show that large numbers of workers in every state are affected by arthritis," said Janet Collins, Ph.D., director, CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "With the increasing number of older Americans in the nation's workforce, it is important that employers, health departments and others take steps that help people with arthritis stay employed or become employed."

The study examined the percent of all working age adults in each state who experience work limitations due to arthritis and was conducted using self-reported data from the 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. The variations across states may be related to the difference prevalence of arthritis across states or to the predominance of certain occupations, which can worsen arthritic symptoms, such as mining, manufacturing, and agricultural jobs, in some states.

"There's no question that people with arthritis face a number of challenges," said Kristina Theis, M.P.H., the study's lead author in CDC's Division of Adult and Community Health. "Fortunately, simple workplace accommodations like flexible work schedules, ergonomic work stations and efforts to promote exercise and physical activity can help many workers who have arthritis."

Arthritis, which comprises more than 100 different diseases and conditions, is the most frequent cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 19 million adults. Through its arthritis program, CDC supports activities in 36 states and works with partners to implement evidence-based community interventions to reduce pain and disability and improve the quality of life for people with arthritis.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis.

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