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Who Has Arthritis in Indiana

Arthritis and Indiana:
Our State's Burden

More than 29.1 percent of BRFSS respondents reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis, nearly 1.3 million Hoosiers adults. Respondents who were women, older, obese, had low incomes, or had less than high school education reported higher rates of arthritis.


The likelihood of getting arthritis increased with age. Respondents aged 18-24 reported arthritis at 6.5 percent compared to 58.6 percent of respondents aged 75 or older (see Figure 2).

Figure 2
Diagnosed with Arthritis by Age (Indiana 2005 BRFSS)

Although the number of Hoosiers adults reporting doctor-diagnosed arthritis varied between 2002 through 2005, a common range between 29.7 and 30.5 percent occurred within the confidence intervals for all four years (see shaded area, Figure 3).

Figure 3
Diagnosed with Arthritis 2002-2005 (Indiana 2002 -2005)

It is a myth that arthritis “only affects old people.” Most Hoosiers (64%) with arthritis are working age (see Figure 4).

Figure 4
Diagnosed with Arthritis by Working or Retirement Age (Indiana 2005 BRFSS)


Overall, women were more likely to have arthritis than men were, 32.4 percent vs. 25.9 percent, respectively (see Figure 5).

Figure 5
Diagnosed with Arthritis by Sex (Indiana 2005 BRFSS)

Nationally, females have a higher prevalence of arthritis than males. Indiana ranks high in both female and male prevalence.

Figure 6
Diagnosed with Arthritis by Sex Nationally (2005 BRFSS)

Prevalence for the sexes was comparable for adults under 45 years of age -- 12.2 percent for males and 15.2 percent for females.  After age 45, prevalence for females surpassed that of males by nearly nine percentage points.  This trend lasts until after age 65, when males began to “catch up” with females (see Figure 7).

Figure 7
Diagnosed with Arthritis by Age and Sex (Indiana 2005 BRFSS)

Body Weight

Indiana ranked as 10th most obese state in 2005, with 27.2 percent of Hoosier adults classified as obese, based on their reported height and weight.13 (See appendix C for a Body Mass Index chart, for normal weight, overweight and obese classifications).

The excess weight Hoosiers carry increased stress on weight-bearing joints and created a greater risk for osteoarthritis. With respect to body weight, 38.6 percent of Hoosiers considered obese reported arthritis, compared to 21.7 percent of those who were considered normal weight or underweight (see Figure 8).


Figure 8
Diagnosed with Arthritis by Body Mass Index (BMI) (Indiana 2005 BRFSS)

Socioeconomic factors

Income and education are “markers” of socioeconomic status. Research indicates that socioeconomic conditions may play a role in who gets arthritis, as they do for other chronic diseases.

With respect to income level, those households with an income below $25,000 reported higher rates of arthritis.  Of households making less than $15,000, more than 36% reported  physician-diagnosed arthritis, compared to 22 percent with income of $75,000 or more (see Figure 9).

Figure 9
Arthritis Diagnosed by Income (Indiana BRFSS 2005)

Obesity rates were consistent across income levels indicating that obesity did not explain higher disease rates in low-income respondents. Of respondents whose annual income was less than $15,000, the obesity rate was 27.9 percent. Individuals with a yearly income of $50,000 or more had an obesity rate of 25.6 percent. (see Figure 10).

Figure 10
Prevalence of Obesity by Income Level (Indiana 2005 BRFSS)

By education, 33.5 percent of adults with less than high school education reported arthritis versus 21.1 percent of adults with college degrees (see Figure 11).

Figure 11
Diagnosed with Arthritis by Education (Indiana 2005 BRFSS)


Whites (non-Hispanic/Latino), Blacks (non-Hispanic/Latino) and people of multiple races report similar rates for arthritis, 29.5 percent, 28.3 percent, and 35.3 percent, respectively. Hispanics/Latinos reported a somewhat lower rate of 16.3 percent. Younger age among the Hispanic/Latino population in Indiana may account for the lower rate (see Figure 12).

Figure 12
Diagnosed with Arthritis by Race and Ethnicity (Indiana BRFSS 2005)



Rural/urban Counties in the state are divided into five categories based on their population:

  • Indianapolis or Marion County
  • Counties on the fringe of a large metropolitan (e.g., Porter in the northwest and the “doughnut” counties surrounding Marion)
  • Counties with small metropolitans (e.g., Allen, Monroe, St. Joseph, and Vanderburgh)
  • Non-metropolitan counties with a city of 10,000 population (e.g., Bartholomew, Daviess, Fayette, and Wabash)
  • Non-metropolitan counties without a city of 10,000 population (e.g., Benton, Carroll, Putnam, and Washington)

The prevalence rates for arthritis are similar across population categories. However, 34.4 percent of state residents live in counties with small metropolitans, while 24.6 percent live in counties on the fringe of large metropolitans, 13.8 percent in Marion county, 13.6 percent in non-metropolitan counties with a city of more than 10,000, and 13.7 percent in non-metropolitan counties without a city of 10,000 (see Appendix B for state demographics). When deciding where to target interventions, these demographics are an important factor to consider (see figure 13). 

Figure 13
Population Percentage Based on County Type (US Census)


ISDH 2005 Indiana Health Behavior Risk Factors Report.