Link Unveiled Between Poverty and Arthritis

Developing arthritis could increase the risk of falling into poverty, especially for female patients.

Developing arthritis could increase the risk of falling into poverty, especially for female patients, according to a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia observed nearly 4,000 Australian adults between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2012 in order to evaluate Australians who developed arthritis to determine if they had an elevated risk of falling into poverty. The study participants were aged 21-years-old or older at study initiation. The study authors noted that low income is a known characteristic of having arthritis, but prior to their investigation, there were no longitudinal studies documenting the relationship between having arthritis and falling into poverty.

The researchers learned that women who developed arthritis were 51% more likely to fall into income poverty than women without arthritis. In male patients who developed arthritis, the risk for income poverty was 22%.

The researchers also defined “multidimensional poverty” as a combination of income, health, and educational attainment. For women who developed arthritis, the risk for multidimensional poverty was 87%, but only 29% for male patients.

“With population ageing occurring in most of the developed nations around the world, health conditions such as arthritis will become increasingly common,” lead and corresponding author Emily

Callander, PhD, explained in a press release. “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.”

The researchers said that arthritis is prevalent, and its prevalence is often overlooked as an important factor in poverty levels.

For women with arthritis, as MD Magazine recently reported, oral contraceptives may be beneficial. Rheumatoid Arthritis Impact of Disease Scores were significantly increased in women who were currently using and were former users of oral contraceptives.

In another study reported by this site, high body mass index was linked to a reduced risk for rheumatoid arthritis in male patients. Nearly 40% and 63% of the 60,000 males included in two cohorts saw a decreased risk of subsequent rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis after being overweight or obese at the study’s initiation.