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Health Indicator Report of Arthritis and Activity Limitation

There are nearly 19 million adults in the U.S. who report arthritis-attributable activity limitation. By 2030, 25 million (9.3% of the U.S. adult population) are projected to report arthritis-attributable activity limitations. Monitoring the prevalence of arthritis-attributable activity limitation among adults is important for estimating the need for intervention programs to reduce the disabling effects of arthritis, and to estimate how well existing intervention programs are working. These programs include self-management education programs that have been shown to reduce pain and costs, and physical activity programs that have been shown to improve physical function, mental health, and quality of life. Arthritis-attributable activity limitation can be prevented or reduced in many persons. For example, aerobic and strengthening exercises can improve physical function and self-reported disability among older disabled adults. In addition, for persons with arthritis who are not limited in activity, regular physical activity can reduce the risk for functional activity limitation. Arthritis self-management education classes can also reduce pain and disability.
Please note that the rates in this graph have been adjusted for age.

Age-adjusted Percentage of Adults With Arthritis Who Reported Limiting Their Usual Activities due to Arthritis, Utah and U.S., 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011


Doctor-diagnosed arthritis is self-reported in the BRFSS and was not confirmed by a health-care provider. However, such self-reports have been shown to be acceptable for surveillance purposes. Activity limitation is also self-reported.   [[br]] [[br]] Beginning in 2011, BRFSS data include both landline and cell phone respondent data along with a new weighting methodology called iterative proportional fitting, or raking. This methodology utilizes additional demographic information (such as education, race, and marital status) in the weighting procedure. Both of these methodology changes were implemented to account for an increased number of U.S. households without landline phones and an under-representation of certain demographic groups that were not well-represented in the sample. More details about these changes can be found at: Because age affects the likelihood of having arthritis, it is beneficial to adjust for the effect of age when comparing populations. This method helps to determine if a certain population has a factor, which contributes to arthritis more than the effect of age. Therefore, these data have been age-adjusted to the U.S. 2000 standard population. Rates are based on eight age groups: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 55-64, 65-74, 75-84, and 85+.

Data Sources

  • Utah Data: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Office of Public Health Assessment, Utah Department of Health
  • U.S. Data: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Division of Behavioral Surveillance, CDC Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services

Data Interpretation Issues

The use of the word "now" may lead to a wide variety of interpretations, as arthritis symptoms tend to flare up and recede and are not uniform over time. The use of the word "limited" can also lead to different interpretations. For example, if a person can function but has sporadic pain in a joint, or stiffness that goes away or is even persistent but not debilitating, is that a limitation? What if someone can do an activity but with pain? What if there is sharp pain that is limiting for an instant but quickly subsides? What is the nature of limitations that cause a person to answer "yes"? Are they relatively slight (difficulty opening jars) or serious (difficulty walking)? What is the range of activities that arthritis impacts; playing a piano or playing golf?


The definition for this indicator is Utah adults 18 and older with doctor-diagnosed arthritis who report limiting any activities because of their arthritis.


Respondents who answered "Yes" to the following BRFSS question were included in the numerator: "Are you now limited in any way in any activities because of arthritis or joint symptoms?" Responses of "Don't know/Not sure", "Refused", and those with "Missing" responses were excluded.


Number of respondents who reported being told they had some form of arthritis. Responses of "Don't know/Not sure" or "Refused", and those with "Missing" responses were excluded.

Healthy People Objective AOCBC-2:

Reduce the proportion of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis who experience a limitation in activity due to arthritis or joint symptoms
U.S. Target: 35.5 percent
State Target: 37.0 percent

Other Objectives

Healthy People 2020 Objective AOCBC-7.2: Increase the proportion of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis who receive health care provider counseling for physical activity or exercise.[[br]] '''U.S. Target:''' 45.3 percent

How Are We Doing?

The 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey revealed that nearly half (49.7%) of Utah adults (crude rate) who reported arthritis limited their usual activities due to their arthritis. Despite the known benefits of exercise for persons with arthritis, 21.2 percent of Utah adults with arthritis reported they did not meet the recommended requirements for physical activity in 2011, and 29.5 percent reported no leisure time physical activity.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

In 2011, the age-adjusted rate of activity limitation due to arthritis was 48.1 percent in Utah, which was slightly better than the U.S. rate of 50.9 percent. Because age affects the likelihood of having arthritis, it is beneficial to adjust for the effect of age when comparing populations. This method helps to determine if a certain population has a factor, which contributes to arthritis more than the effect of age. Therefore, these data were adjusted to the U.S. 2000 standard population. Please note the age-adjusted rate of activity limitation due to arthritis (48.1%) is slightly lower than the crude rate of 49.7 percent.

What Is Being Done?

The Utah Arthritis Program (UAP) works closely with the Arthritis Foundation to increase participation in the Arthritis Foundation Exercise, Aquatics and Walk With Ease Programs. The UAP is also building infrastructure with community organizations to begin offering EnhanceFitness, Active Living Everyday, and the Chronic Disease Self-Management Courses to the public. The UAP is also promoting "Physical Activity. The Arthritis Pain Reliever", which is a communications campaign developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote physical activity as a method of managing arthritis.

Evidence-based Practices

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease Program EnhanceFitness Exercise Program

Available Services

Utah Department of Health Arthritis Program Bureau of Health Promotion P.O. Box 142107 Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2107 (801) 538-9458 Arthritis Foundation Great West Region 448 East 400 South, Suite 103 Salt Lake City, Utah 84111 (801) 536-0990 Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services Department of Human Resources 195 N. 1950 W. SLC, Utah 84116 (801) 538-3910 University of Utah Department of Immunology and Rheumatology School of Medicine 50 North Medical Drive Salt Lake City, Utah 84132 (801) 581-7724 The Orthopedic Speciality Hospital 5770 S. 300 E. Murray, Utah 84123 (801) 314-4100 Salt Lake County Aging Services 2001 S. State Salt Lake City, Utah 84190-2300 (801) 468-2454 Rheumatologists in Utah

Health Program Information

The mission of the Utah Arthritis Program (UAP) is to improve the quality of life for people affected by arthritis. The UAP is focused on measuring the occurrence of arthritis in Utah, improving arthritis awareness, and increasing participation in programs proven to help those with doctor-diagnosed arthritis. The UAP works closely with the CDC, the Arthritis Foundation, and local health districts and others to provide effective programs.
Page Content Updated On 06/27/2013, Published on 07/08/2013
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 14 December 2017 23:36:11 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Fri, 26 May 2017 10:19:42 MDT