Hill Briefing Releases New CDC Data on Most Common Causes of Disability; Arthritis Tops the List

ATLANTA, April 30, 2009 - Nearly 48 million Americans have a disability, an increase of three million from 1999, and arthritis tops the list of most common causes of disability, according to an article published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). In addition, the number of people who report arthritis as the primary cause of disability has increased by one million. The Arthritis Foundation believes that findings from this study must be taken into consideration as a part of health care reform in this country and arthritis research and prevention efforts strengthened to reduce and minimize the burden of arthritis. Read more.

WHAT:    The Arthritis Foundation, joined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a special briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss new data on disability causes that appear in the lead story in the April 30th Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).  These data have not been reported in nearly 10 years.

MMWR: Key Findings

  • Nearly one in five (21.8%) American adults reports having a disability.
  • The number of Americans reporting a disability has increased to 47.5 million Americans, up 3.4 million since 1999.

             22.5 million reported having a hard time walking three blocks.
             21.7 million reported having difficulty climbing a flight of stairs.
             13.5 million reported difficulty with “instrumental” activities of daily living.
              8.5 million had difficulty with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and grooming.

  • Arthritis remains the most common cause of disability, accounting for nearly 9 million of the 47.5 million people reporting disabilities, or nearly one in every five adults (18%) with a disability.
  • Disability is more prevalent among women than men (at all ages): one in four women (24.4%) report having a disability compared with one in five men (19.1%).
  • In absolute numbers, there are nearly as many Baby Boomers who report disabilities – 17.3 million - as people 65 and older - 18.1 million. 
  • As a result, aging “Baby Boomers” will likely cause large increases in the number of adults with disabilities over the next 20 years, suggesting a critical need to expand the use of effective strategies to prevent and manage disability in the population.

Read more facts about arthritis prevalence.

See the Arthritis Foundation's policy recommendations and priorities.

Learn more about the response to arthritis.

See arthritis advocacy in action.

Find resources you can use.

Read the full MMWR.

WHO:   Janet Collins, Ph.D., Director, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

John H. Klippel, M.D., President and CEO, Arthritis Foundation

Jacki Barbato, Arthritis Foundation Program Participant, Wallingford, CT

Veronica Rueda, Arthritis Foundation Program Trainer, Downey, CA




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