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.




The Nordic Rheuma Council (Nordisk Reumaråd – NRR) aims to chart the life situation of rheumatic patients in the Nordic countries. The goal is to increase knowledge and understanding of these diseases and their consequences for the individuals concerned, for society and economy. The present decade has been declared the “Bone and joint decade” by the World Health Organization (WHO), in order to further understanding of the impact of musculoskeletal diseases or conditions on society and individuals and to assist progress on this front. Arthritis and rheumatic diseases are a very large part of the group of musculoskeletal conditions. The goal of Nordic Rheuma Council is therefore in good harmony with the work of WHO and other organizations in this area.


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