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Arthritis may be a major driver of poverty

Women with arthritis are 51% more likely to end up living in poverty than women without arthritis

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Developing arthritis increases the risk of falling into poverty, especially for women, research* published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology shows.

The researchers used Cox analysis regression models to calculate the relationship between arthritis and poverty in a sample of more than 4,000 Australian adults aged 21 and over. They estimated that women who developed arthritis were 51% more likely to fall into income poverty than non-arthritic women. In men, arthritis was linked with a 22% increased risk of falling into poverty.

Women with arthritis were 87% more likely to fall into "multidimensional poverty," which includes income, health, and educational attainment, while in men the risk of this was 29%. The investigators noted that given the high prevalence of arthritis, the condition is an overlooked driver of poverty.

Lead author Dr Emily Callander, from the University of Sydney, said: "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.”

* Emily J. Callander, et al. Arthritis and the risk of falling into poverty: A survival analysis using Australian data. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 2015. DOI: 10.1002/art.39277

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