What Americans Don't Know About Arthritis May Surprise You

Survey commissioned by the Arthritis Foundation reveals misconceptions about the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

ATLANTA, DECEMBER 20, 2018 - More than 4 in 5 Americans (81 percent) have arthritis and/or know someone with arthritis* and 85 percent of Americans believe that arthritis needs more public attention.* However, the disease is still widely misunderstood by the general public. Committed to supporting the one in four Americans with arthritis**, the Arthritis Foundation commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct an online survey of 2,016 U.S. adults ages 18 and older to gauge Americans’ understanding and perceptions of arthritis. Here are some highlights from the Arthritis Foundation/Harris Poll survey:

Less than 1 in 10 Americans (7 percent) know that arthritis is the No. 1 cause of long-term disability in the U.S.
Nearly 3 in 5 Americans (59 percent) would be uncomfortable requesting time off work each month to manage an illness.  (However, an estimated 172 million work days are lost annually due to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions**.)
More than half of Americans (57 percent) don’t know that people with arthritis are at an increased risk for developing other diseases like heart disease. (However, almost half of all adults with heart disease (49.3 percent) or diabetes (47.1 percent) also have arthritis**.)
“I wish I could say I was surprised by these stats and the lack of understanding about arthritis, but I’m not,” said Anna Legassie, 2018 National Adult Honoree for Walk to Cure Arthritis who was diagnosed with arthritis at age 11. “There are so many people with arthritis, yet the general public doesn’t fully grasp how devasting this disease can be for so many people. People need to be educated about the disease, so they can help us fight this disease and one day find a cure.”

“People with arthritis are more likely than the general public to feel isolated, because many people, including loved ones, don’t understand how challenging arthritis can be,” said Cindy McDaniel, senior vice president of consumer health, Arthritis Foundation. “Our goal is to raise awareness and ensure that people with arthritis feel supported. This survey helps us understand the gaps in education and raise awareness, so that we can support and better serve the more than 54 million Americans with arthritis.”

The Arthritis Foundation has programs to combat isolation, such as local meetups and online tools and resources, as well as is working tirelessly to increase the public’s understanding of arthritis through its first-ever cause campaign, “Let’s Get a Grip on Arthritis.” To learn more, visit 

*According to a survey commissioned by the Arthritis Foundation and conducted by The Harris Poll. See below for the methodology.

**According to the Arthritis Foundation Arthritis by the Numbers: Book of Trusted Facts and Figures.


Arthritis Foundation/Harris Poll Methodology:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Arthritis Foundation from October 18-22, 2018 among 2,016 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Claire Villines at [email protected].

About the Arthritis Foundation:

The Arthritis Foundation is the Champion of Yes. Leading the fight for the arthritis community, the Foundation helps conquer everyday battles through life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science and community connections. The Arthritis Foundation’s goal is to chart a winning course, guiding families in developing personalized plans for living a full life – and making each day another stride toward a cure. The Foundation also publishes Arthritis Today, the award-winning magazine that reaches 4 million readers.

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