This article is part of the supplement: Women's Health Surveillance Report
The Impact of Arthritis on Canadian Women
1 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
2 University Health Network, Toronto, Canada
BMC Women's Health 2004, 4(Suppl 1):S18 doi:10.1186/1472-6874-4-S1-S18Published: 25 August 2004
Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in Canada and a leading cause of long-term disability, pain, and increased health care utilization. It is also a far more prevalent condition among women than men. Information was obtained primarily from the 1998–99 National Population Health Survey and the Canadian Joint Replacement Registry.
In 1998, the overall prevalence of self-reported arthritis or rheumatism in Canadian women was 20.0%. This rate increased to 55.6% among women over 75 years of age. Compared to women with chronic conditions, women with arthritis were more likely to experience long-term disability; report worse health; experience more pain; be dependent upon others and consult general practitioners, specialists, and physiotherapists more frequently. While men and women with arthritis under-utilize total joint replacement surgery, the degree of under-use was over three times greater for women.
Data Gaps and Recommendations
There is a lack of detailed information on the use of health care services by women with arthritis. There are also no systematic data available on the prescribing of medications, access to services such as assistive devices or exercise programs, or use of community support, self-management strategies, or rehabilitation services. The burden of arthritis both on women and on society is expected to increase as the population ages. A comprehensive health strategy to reduce the impact of arthritis is required to ensure that health and support services are available in a timely manner and provided in such a way to meet the needs of Canadian women.