Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect anyone at any age, and may cause significant pain and disability.
2% of Australians reported having rheumatoid arthritis in 2014–15. That’s approximately 407,900 people
18% of people with rheumatoid arthritis reported poor health, compared with 3.9% of people without the condition
72% rise in hospitalisations for people with rheumatoid arthritis from 2005–06 to 2015–16
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is usually managed by general practitioners in partnership with rheumatologists and allied health professionals (such as physiotherapists) and centres on managing pain, reducing inflammation and joint damage, and preventing loss of function.
Severe disease may require hospitalisation to relieve pain and restore function to damaged joints.
Data from the AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD) show that, in 2015–16:
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (Data table).
From 2005–06 to 2015–16, age standardised hospitalisation rate for rheumatoid arthritis increased by 72%: from 29 per 100,000 to 50 per 100,000 population. This increase was driven by a 74% increase in hospitalisations for females (from 42 to 73 per 100,000 females), compared with a 53% increase for males (from 17 to 26 per 100,000 males) (Figure 2).
Note: Rates are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.
In 2015–16, a total of 21,881 procedures were performed in rheumatoid arthritis hospitalisations. Administration of pharmacotherapy (44%), generalised allied health interventions (including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and dietetics) (24%) and cerebral anaesthesia (9%) were the most common groups (blocks) of procedures for rheumatoid arthritis hospitalisations.
Between 2005–06 and 2015–16, there was a marked increase in the number of procedures for administration of pharmacotherapy: from 2,853 procedures in 2005–06 to 9,585 procedures in 2015–16.
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