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FOR RELEASE: December 4, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Arthritis Places Economic and Societal Burdens on Oklahomans

The economic costs and societal burden related to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in Oklahoma total an estimated $1.65 billion each year, according to a report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Analyzing data from a 1997 medical expenditures survey, the CDC measured the economic and societal burden of arthritis in each of the 50 states. The total cost for the United States was an estimated $116.3 billion, of which $51.1 billion were in medical care expenditures and $65.2 billion were in lost earnings. The report on the costs of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases was released in the Nov. 21 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

More than 936,000 people in Oklahoma suffer from arthritis and over 100 related conditions.

“We expect medical care expenditures to increase because the number of people with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions will increase as our baby boomers age, and newer, more expensive treatments become available,” said OSDH Arthritis Prevention and Education Program Coordinator Marisa New.

Health care officials anticipate that more public health efforts are needed to increase physical activity, maintain healthy weight, and expand the use of self-management education among persons with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. These types of interventions may help reduce costs and improve quality of life.

The Oklahoma Arthritis Network (OAN) meets regularly to address how partners statewide can work together to meet goals addressed in the Oklahoma Arthritis Action Plan (www.health.state.ok.us/program/apep ). Arthritis Foundation self-management education and exercise classes are available in communities statewide to help improve the quality of life. OAN is a statewide coalition whose mission is to maximize the quality of life for Oklahomans affected by arthritis and related conditions through the development of resources, promotion of access to appropriate health care management, and the provision of education. OAN collaborative partners include the Arthritis Foundation, the Oklahoma Lupus Association, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and many others.

To join the OAN in addressing this public health problem, contact the OSDH Arthritis Prevention and Education Program at 405/271-9444, ext. 56410. The full MMWR report is available on the web site at: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5246a3.htm .

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