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Where Have All the Patients Gone? Profile of US Adults Who Report Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis But Are Not Being Treated

Theis, Kristina A. PhD*; Brady, Teresa J. PhD*; Sacks, Jeffrey J. MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000000896
Original Article: PDF Only

Background Patients only benefit from clinical management of arthritis if they are under the care of a physician or other health professional.

Objectives We profiled adults who reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis who are not currently being treated for it to understand better who they are.

Methods Individuals with no current treatment (NCT) were identified by “no” to “Are you currently being treated by a doctor or other health professional for arthritis or joint symptoms?” Demographics, current symptoms, physical functioning, arthritis limitations and interference in life activities, and level of agreement with treatment and attitude statements were assessed in this cross-sectional, descriptive study of noninstitutionalized US adults aged 45 years or older with self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis (n = 1793).

Results More than half of the study population, 52%, reported NCT (n = 920). Of those with NCT, 27% reported fair/poor health, 40% reported being limited by their arthritis, 51% had daily arthritis pain, 59% reported 2 or more symptomatic joints, and 19% reported the lowest third of physical functioning. Despite NCT, 83% with NCT agreed or strongly agreed with the importance of seeing a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Conclusions Greater than half of those aged 45 years or older with arthritis were not currently being treated for it, substantial proportions of whom experienced severe symptoms and poor physical function and may benefit from clinical management and guidance, complemented by community-delivered public health interventions (self-management education, physical activity). Further research to understand the reasons for NCT may identify promising intervention points to address missed treatment opportunities and improve quality of life and functioning.

From the *Arthritis Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and

Sue Binder Consulting, Atlanta, GA.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Correspondence: Kristina A. Theis, PhD, Arthritis Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop F-78, Atlanta, GA 30341. E-mail:

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