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 https://www.arthritis.org/letsgriparthritis. 

*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.

Stay in the Know. Live in the Yes.

Get involved with the arthritis community. Tell us a little about yourself and, based on your interests, you’ll receive emails packed with the latest information and resources to live your best life and connect with others.

I Want to Contribute
I Need Help
  • Donate


    Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life.

  • Volunteer


    Join us and become a Champion of Yes. There are many volunteer opportunities available.

  • Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Take part to be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis.

  • Partner


    Proud Partners of the Arthritis Foundation make an annual commitment to directly support the Foundation’s mission.


Ways to Give

Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life. Whether it is supporting cutting-edge research, 24/7 access to one-on-one support, resources and tools for daily living, and more, your gift will be life-changing.

Make a Donation

Help millions of people live with less pain and fund groundbreaking research to discover a cure for this devastating disease. Please, make your urgently-needed donation to the Arthritis Foundation now!

Become a Member

Become an Arthritis Foundation member today for just $20 and you'll receive access to helpful tools..... and more. 

Make a Honor or Memorial Gift

Honor a loved one with a meaningful donation to the Arthritis Foundation. We'll send a handwritten card to the honoree or their family notifying them of your thoughtful gift.

Gift Planning

I want information on ways to remember the AF in my will, trust or other financial planning vehicles.


Volunteer Opportunities

The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.

Become a Volunteer

More About Volunteering


Give Just 10 Minutes.

Tell us what matters most to you. Change the future of arthritis.

By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
- Develop programs to meet the needs of you and your community
- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

How are you changing the future?

By sharing your experience, you’re showing decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis, paving the way for change. You’re helping break down barriers to care, inform research and create resources that make a difference in people’s lives, including your own.

Get Started


Meet Our Partners

As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.


Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000


Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.


Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.


Our Pacesetters ensure that we can chart the course for a cure for those who live with arthritis. They contribute $500,000 to $999,000.


Our Signature partners make their mark by helping us identify new and meaningful resources for people with arthritis. They contribute $250,000 to $499,999.


Our Supporting partners are active champions who provide encouragement and assistance to the arthritis community. They contribute $100,000 to $249,999.