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Health-related quality of life in midlife women in Qatar: relation to arthritis and symptoms of joint pain

Gerber, Linda M. PhD; Chiu, Ya-Lin MS; Verjee, Mohamud MBChB; Ghomrawi, Hassan PhD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000532
Original Articles

Objective: 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).

Methods: 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.

Results: 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).

Conclusions: 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.

1Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY

2Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Doha, Qatar

3Healthcare Research Institute, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY.

Address correspondence to: Linda M. Gerber, PhD, Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Cornell Medical College, 402 E. 67th St., LA-231, New York, NY 10065. E-mail:

Received 16 March, 2015

Revised 2 July, 2015

Accepted 2 July, 2015

Funding/support: This research was supported by the Qatar National Research Fund, National Priorities Research Program 08-467-3-098. Support was also provided by the Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC), National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) grant #UL1-TR000457-06.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

© 2016 by The North American Menopause Society.