The prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been poorly documented in the Middle East and North African region, including the State of Qatar. Given that musculoskeletal pain is commonly reported among midlife women, we evaluated the association between self-report of either OA or RA and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among midlife women in Qatar. In addition, HRQoL among women in Qatar was compared with that of women in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN).
A cross-sectional study was conducted among 841 women 40 to 60 years recruited from primary care centers in Qatar. Face-to-face interviews were conducted and included measures of self-reported OA and RA, health-related symptom experience, and HRQoL using the SF-36 health survey.
Most women were obese (75.5%) and reported being bothered by aches and stiffness in joints (71.6%). Prevalence of self-reported OA and RA was 4.8% and 4.3%, respectively. OA was significantly associated with reduced physical function (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.97; P=0.003). RA was also significantly related to reduced physical function (adjusted OR, 2.94; P = 0.01) and role physical (adjusted OR, 2.67; P = 0.01). When compared with women from the SWAN, women from the current study had significantly lower mean scores for bodily pain (53.0 vs 68.9, P = 0.0001) and for vitality (49.9 vs 54.8, P = 0.0001).
Self-report of OA or RA was associated with significant disability in our sample. Because symptoms of aches and stiff joints were so frequently reported, arthritis may be under-diagnosed, especially given the high rates of obesity observed.