Arthritis, Comorbidities Both Impair Quality of Life


For older adults in particular, managing the comorbidity as well as the arthritis is needed to attain improvement.

Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is lower in older adults who have arthritis and even lower in those who have at least 1 of 5 other common chronic conditions.

Given the high prevalence of arthritis and chronic comorbid conditions in older adults, management of both the arthritis and the comorbidity is needed to improve HRQoL, concluded researchers at Humana Inc, Louisville, and Arthritis Program, Division of Population Health, at the CDC.

The investigators sought to determine whether the relationship between arthritis and poor HRQoL in adults aged 18 years or older persisted in an older population and whether HRQoL was lower in persons who had arthritis and 1 or more of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

They identified adults aged 65 years or older with Medicare Advantage coverage who responded to an HRQoL survey and compared mean physically, mentally, and total unhealthy days overall and in the 5 comorbidity subgroups for those who had arthritis and those who did not.

Of 58,975 survey respondents, 44% had arthritis diagnosed through claims. In the study sample, 82% reported at least 1 of the chronic conditions: hypertension, 67%; diabetes, 30%; coronary artery disease, 23%; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 14%; and congestive heart failure, 10%.

Respondents who had arthritis reported significantly more adjusted mean physically, mentally, and total unhealthy days and greater activity limitation than those who did not.

Older adults who had arthritis and congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, or hypertension reported significantly more adjusted physically, mentally, and total unhealthy days than those who did not but had the same chronic conditions.

For those with coronary artery disease, total and physically unhealthy days and days with activity limitation were significantly worse for those with arthritis, but mentally unhealthy days was not.

The authors noted that engaging in regular physical activity can reduce the disability associated with arthritis and the reported number of unhealthy days but that adherence to physical activity recommendations is poor among persons with arthritis and those with the chronic comorbid conditions.

They suggested that additional research is warranted to find effective ways to help persons, especially older adults, meet physical activity recommendations.


Havens E, Slabaugh SL, Helmick CG, et al. Comorbid Arthritis Is Associated With Lower Health-Related Quality of Life in Older Adults With Other Chronic Conditions, United States, 2013–2014. Prev Chronic Dis. 2017;14:160495. DOI:

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