How to Assess Community Arthritis Burden

 

 

Click here for the PDF version of this tip sheet

 

USE BRFSS DATA

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) has a wealth of information about the burden of doctor-diagnosed arthritis in every state and information on many metropolitan areas.  BRFSS is a telephone survey conducted in every state.  Respondents 18 years of age and older are counted as having arthritis if they answered yes to the question “Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia?” BRFSS arthritis data are collected every other year, in odd numbered years.

 

SEE STATE DATA ON CDC WEB SITE

You can access state-level data at the CDC’s Arthritis Program’s web site http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis.  Click on “Data and statistics” and then on “State statistics.” Click on the map for state-specific arthritis data.   You will find state-level estimates for age, sex, race/ethnicity, activity limitation, and the percent of people with arthritis who are overweight and the percent of people with arthritis who are physically inactive.

 

CALCULATE LOCAL ARTHRITIS BURDEN

If you are working in a community and are able to access demographic information about the population but don’t have any data on the arthritis burden, you can develop synthetic estimates for the burden of arthritis.  This is done by applying state-level estimates for the percent of the population that have arthritis to your local population data. A simple example is provided below.

 

OBTAIN METROPOLITAN DATA

Another option is to obtain data from the BRFSS Web site  http://www.cdc.gov/brfss.  Click on “State Prevalence data” to access data for a state, which can then be stratified by age, sex, race, educational attainment, or income.  Click on SMART data to look for information on the overall burden of arthritis in a metropolitan area. Bear in mind that metropolitan areas are usually groups of counties.  For example, the Atlanta metropolitan area includes 28 counties. 

 

EXAMPLE

The AF Georgia Chapter is interested in providing more AF programs in DeKalb County, a densely populated part of the metropolitan Atlanta area that is racially and economically diverse.

  • The chapter first obtains demographic data on DeKalb County.
  • The state estimates are applied to the county level population counts to estimate the number of people with arthritis in a particular population subgroup.
  • For example, to estimate the number of adult males in DeKalb County with arthritis you would multiply the number of males in the DeKalb County population (239,960) by the percent of men in the state with arthritis 22% or .22 to determine there are 52,791 men in DeKalb County with arthritis.

 

General Characteristics

DeKalb County Population Estimate

State % with Arthritis

 Calculated Estimate  of the Number with Arthritis

Total adult population (18 and older)

494,764

26%

128,638

 

 

 

 

Male

239,960

22%

52,791

Female

254,803

29%

73,892

 

 

 

 

Age

 

 

 

18 years and over

494,764

26%

128,638

65 years and over

52,997

57%

30,208

 

 

 

 

Race

 

 

 

White

165,746

27%

44,751

Black

273,109

25%

68,277

 

 

 

 

Adults limited by arthritis

494,764

10%

49,476

 

 

 

 

 

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