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.
59% rise in hospitalisations for people with rheumatoid arthritis from 2005–06 to 2014–15
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
Rheumatoid arthritis can be a significant cause of disability and have considerable impact on quality of life. Functional limitations and disability associated with rheumatoid arthritis can also have a negative impact on emotional wellbeing by affecting self-esteem and self-image.
People's perceptions of their own health have been shown to be good predictors of their future health care use and their long-term survival [1,2]. While it may not always be equivalent to health status as measured by a medical professional, self-perceived health measures do reflect a person's perception of his/her own health at a given point in time .
Based on self-reported data from the ABS 2014–15 National Health Survey, people aged 15 and over with rheumatoid arthritis are less likely to perceive their health as excellent, very good, or good than people without the condition. People with rheumatoid arthritis were 4.7 times as likely to report their health as poor (18%) compared to those without the condition (3.9%).
Notes: Rates are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Microdata: National Health Survey, 2014–15 (Data table).
The limitations imposed by rheumatoid arthritis can affect the psychological wellbeing of those affected and also the psychological wellbeing of their family and carers .
People aged 18 and over with rheumatoid arthritis were 3 times as likely to report very high levels of psychological distress (11%) compared to those without the condition (3.6%) according to the 2014–15 NHS.
Pain is one of the major symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, although the level of pain experienced will differ between individuals and over time.
People aged 18 and over with rheumatoid arthritis were 4.4 times as likely to report severe bodily pain in the last 4 weeks (28%) compared to those without the condition (6.5%) according to the 2014–15 NHS. People with rheumatoid arthritis were also 2.2 times as likely to experience very severe bodily pain (3.2%) compared to people without rheumatoid arthritis (1.4%).
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