People With Arthritis More Likely to Slip Into Poverty

Men and women with arthritis have a significantly greater chance of becoming poor. And one gender is especially at risk.

Having arthritis increases the risk of becoming impoverished, especially for women, researchers have found.

Men with arthritis are 22 percent more likely to fall into poverty compared with men who don’t have arthritis, according to an Australian study published online this week by the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology. Women with arthritis are 51 percent more likely to fall into poverty.

Additionally, arthritic men are 29 percent more likely to fall into what researchers call “multidimensional poverty,” a measure that incorporates income as well as health and education attainment. Arthritic women are 87 percent more likely to fall into multidimensional poverty.

Given how common arthritis is, the researchers conclude that the medical condition that affects the joints is an overlooked driver of poverty.

Emily Callander, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Sydney Medical School, states in a news release:

“With population ageing occurring in most of the developed nations around the world, health conditions such as arthritis will become increasingly common.

“That developing arthritis has such a pronounced impact on the risk of falling into poverty should flag to policy makers in welfare departments the influence of the condition on national living standards. Furthermore, the high risk of poverty should be kept in mind by clinicians seeking the most appropriate treatment for their patients with arthritis, as affordability of out-of-pocket costs may be an important factor.”

According to the Arthritis Foundation, a national nonprofit in the U.S., the condition is the No. 1 cause of disability in the country.

Americans with arthritis or related conditions lose more workdays each year due to illness or injury than those with any other medical condition. Americans with arthritis who are of working age (18 to 64) are also less likely to be employed than their peers without the condition.

Are you surprised to learn there’s such a strong connection between arthritis and poverty? Let us know what you think about these findings below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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