Place Tied to Arthritis Pain

Arthritis rates are higher in poorer neighborhoods

(RxWiki News) Millions of people across the United States suffer from some form of arthritis. To reduce these numbers, researchers first have to know what populations are most affected.

People who live in poorer neighborhoods may have a greater risk of getting arthritis than those who live in wealthier areas.

"Exercise to keep your joints healthy."

"It is widely known that obesity, age, and social disadvantage are linked and are also risk factors for arthritis," said Sharon Brennan, Ph.D., from the University of Melbourne and lead author of the study.

"This is the first time a study has shown specific associations with people's neighborhoods, which may explain that link," she said in a University of Melbourne press release.

For their recent study, Dr. Brennan and Gavin Turrell, Ph.D., of the Queensland University of Technology, looked at the relationship between individual and neighborhood disadvantage and arthritis. In other words, they wanted to see if disadvantages in education, income, and occupation had an impact on rates of arthritis.

They found that people living in the most disadvantages neighborhoods were 42 percent more likely to report having arthritis, compared to those living in the least disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The study showed that over 30 percent of people living in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods reported having arthritis. In contrast, only 18.5 percent of those living in wealthier areas reported having arthritis.

According to Dr. Brennan, this study has major implications for those making health policy. The findings should guide health promotion and the search for intervention strategies designed to lower rates of arthritis.

"Our results indicate that intervention efforts to reduce arthritis may need to focus on both people and places," Dr. Brennan said.

"Our next steps will be to find out why there is a link to arthritis and place," she said.

She adds that it may be that these poorer neighborhoods are not made for physical activity, so people living there are less likely to be active.

The researchers came to these conclusions through examining data from the HABITAT (How Areas in Brisbane Influence Health and Activity) cohort. They surveyed 10,757 individuals between 40 and 65 years of age from 200 neighborhoods with differing socioeconomic status.

The results are published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

Review Date: 
February 1, 2012