AIHW Board AIHW senior staff Annual report Capability statement Collaboration Customer care charter FOI - freedom of information Indexed list of files Conferences & events Organisation chart Presentations Privacy of data Public consultation Strategic Directions 2011-2014 Tenders
By category Ageing, disability & carers Families & children Hospitals Housing & homelessness Indigenous Australians Population groups Risk factors, diseases & death Services, workforce & spending
By subjectAdoptions Aged care Ageing Alcohol & other drugs Arthritis & musculoskeletal conditions Asthma Australia's health Australia's welfare Burden of disease Cancer Cardiovascular health Child health, development & wellbeing Child protection Children's services Chronic diseases
Chronic kidney disease Chronic respiratory conditions Deaths Dementia Dental & oral health Diabetes Disability Expenditure Eye health Food & nutrition Health indicators Homelessness Hospitals Housing assistance Indigenous Australians Injury Life expectancy
Male health Mental health Mothers & babies National health priority areas Overweight & obesity Palliative care Population health Prisoner health Risk factors Rural health Safety & quality of health care Veterans' health Workforce Youth health & wellbeing Youth justice
In other sections Data Publications Contact AIHW
Publications CatalogueOrdering publicationsForthcoming publicationsRate our publication effectivenessSubscribe to release notices
By subject Adoptions Aged care Ageing Alcohol & other drugs Arthritis & musculoskeletal conditions Asthma Australia's health Australia's welfare Burden of disease Cancer Cardiovascular health Child health, development & wellbeing Child protection Children's services Chronic diseases Chronic kidney disease
Chronic respiratory conditions Corporate publications Data linkage Data standards Deaths Dental & oral health Diabetes Disability Expenditure Eye health Food & nutrition General practice Health indicators Health priority areas Homelessness Hospitals Housing assistance Indigenous Australians Indigenous housing
Injury Life expectancy Male health Mental health Mothers & babies Overweight & obesity Palliative care Population health Prisoner health Risk factors Rural health Safety & quality of health care Veterans' health Workforce Youth health & wellbeing Youth justice
In other sections Subjects Data Contact AIHW
About AIHW data METeOR - metadata online registry Data by subject Catalogue of holdings of AIHW data Data integration Data standards Privacy of data
By subject Aged care Alcohol and other drugs Alcohol data sources Burden of disease Body weight data sources Cancer Children's headline indicators
Chronic disease indicators Deaths Disability Expenditure FHBH - Fixing houses for better health General practice (GP) data Hospitals Height and weight data sources
Indigenous Australians International collaboration Medical indemnity Mental health National indicator catalogue National core maternity indicators Risk factors statistics Tobacco data sources Workforce
In other sections Subjects Publications Contact AIHW
AACR ACFADD AHSAC AIHW Board AIHW Ethics Committee CKDMAC AODTS NMDS WG CMAG CSDWG CVDMAC HEAC HHIMG
IGIHM JJ RIG MHISS MyHospitals NAGATSIHID NCIAG NCSIMG NDDWG NDIMG NHISSC NIAG NIRAPIMG NMDD
NMDS NOPSAD NPDDC NPHEP NPHIC PCDWG PDWG PHIDG PHIG REDWG Workforce committees YIAG
Education worksheets What's in the pipeline Subscribe to education notices Other educational links
Worksheets by subject All Latest Ageing Australia's health Australia's welfare Carers
Children & youth Disability Disease Drugs
Health Health prevention Indigenous Australians Injury
In other sections Subjects Data Publications Contact AIHW
Job vacancies How to apply for a position at the AIHW Conditions of employment Benefits of working for the AIHW Indigenous temporary employment register Temporary employment register Occupational Training Program Contact the People Unit Subscribe to employment notices Graduates
AIHW Access magazine Conferences & events Media releases Subscribe to release notices Media FAQ Media contacts
You are here:
How rheumatoid arthritis is managed has changed markedly over the last decade, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease-one where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. Painful swelling and stiffness of the joints are hallmark symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The report, A snapshot of rheumatoid arthritis, shows people with rheumatoid arthritis were 2.9 times as likely as those without the condition to report severe or very severe pain. They were also 1.7 times as likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress, and 3.3 times as likely to report poor health status.
'According to recent statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, rheumatoid arthritis is estimated to affect about 2% of Australians. This condition can develop at any age, but is more common in those aged 55 and older and is more common in women than in men,' said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.
The report shows that while the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis remained relatively unchanged over the last decade, the way this condition is managed has changed significantly during this time.
In 2003, a new class of medicine, referred to as biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs), became available for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in Australia, broadening the treatment options.
As expected, the use of these new treatments has risen significantly in recent years.
'The number of times pharmacotherapy, such as corticosteroids and bDMARDs, was administered during admitted hospital care more than doubled from 2004-05 to 2010-11, up from 2,608 to 6,932 occasions,' Ms York said.
The hospitalisation rate for the condition also rose from 30 hospitalisations per 100,000 people to 53 per 100,000 people between 2001-02 and 2010-11, although it is uncertain how much of this increase is attributable to pharmaceutical interventions provided in hospitals.
In 2008-09, the estimated direct health expenditure alone on rheumatoid arthritis was $318.7 million, with a substantial portion of this spent on prescription medications ($273.6 million, or 86%).
'The indirect cost of managing rheumatoid arthritis is currently unknown but the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on those with the condition is significant,' Ms York said.
'Rheumatoid arthritis may also lead to reduced workforce participation, increased costs of managing the condition, and an increased impact on carers,' Ms York said.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.
Canberra, 29 May 2013
Further information: Louise York, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1271, mob. 0418 271 395
Full publication: A snapshot of rheumatoid arthritis