Social and Personal Costs of Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases

An Exploratory Survey

image of Social and Personal Costs of Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases

Musculoskeletal conditions are the most common cause of severe pain, physical disability and temporary absence from work amongst the advanced nations. They are estimated to consume up to 3% of gross domestic product in Western countries in an average year. Arthritis and rheumatic diseases are a large part of these conditions and they are thus a major burden on society's health and social care services. They are even more pronounced as sources of personal burdens and reduced participation in employment and society in general. Women are on the whole significantly more affected by rheumatic diseases than men. The present pilot report surveys these differing cost environments in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The work was carried out for the Nordic Rheuma Council (NRR). The author, Stefán Ólafsson, is a professor of sociology at the University of Iceland.



Inactivity and work disability rates

We have seen that arthritis-related and musculoskeletal diseases in general are amongst the most common causes of inactivity in the labour market. We have also seen that these diseases have an increased prevalence with higher age. This connects them significantly, though not at all solely, to increased propensity for part-time work, early retirement and they are frequently one of the more common causes of full disability.


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