Arthritis prevalence and activity limitations in older adults

Dorothy D. Dunlop*, Larry M. Manheim, Jing Song, Rowland W. Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Objective. To evaluate the prevalence of arthritis and activity limitations among older Americans by assessing their demographic, ethnic, and economic characteristics. Methods. Data from the Asset and Health Dynamic Survey Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD), a national probability sample of community-dwelling adults born before 1924, were analyzed cross-sectionally. Arthritis that resulted in a physician's visit or a joint replacement not associated with a hip fracture was ascertained by self-report. Results. The prevalence of arthritis in older adults ranged from 25% in non-Hispanic whites to 40% in non-Hispanic blacks to 44% in Hispanics. A higher prevalence of arthritis was associated with less education as well as lower income and less wealth. The prevalence of limitations in activities of daily living (ADL) among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic adults who reported arthritis only was 29%, 30%, and 37%, respectively, and increased to 48%, 57%, and 56%, respectively, among those reporting arthritis plus other chronic conditions, after adjustment for age and sex. Conclusion. Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic older adults reported having arthritis at a substantially higher frequency than did non-Hispanic whites. In addition, Hispanics reported higher rates of ADL limitations than did non-Hispanic whites with comparable disease burden. Further study is needed to confirm and elucidate the reasons for these racial and economic disparities in older populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-221
Number of pages10
JournalArthritis and rheumatism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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