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Center for Disease Control|
Framework for Arthritis Prevention and Control
Effective help is available now for people with arthritis. In addition to medications and physical therapy, knowing how to manage their arthritis can greatly benefit people with this disease. A course developed at Stanford University, the Arthritis Self-Help Course, teaches people about arthritis and how to minimize its symptoms. This 6-week course, taught in a group setting, has been shown to reduce arthritis pain by 20% and physician visits by 40%. However, in 1997, it still reached fewer than 1% of people with arthritis. More widespread use of this course nationwide would save money as well as reduce the impact of arthritis.
With fiscal year 1999 funding of more than $9 million, CDC will implement programs in up to 10 states to reduce the onset and consequences of arthritis.
To support state-based programs, CDC will continue to build the foundation for arthritis prevention and control at the national level. A cornerstone for this foundation is the National Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy. Released in November 1998, this Plan was developed under the leadership of CDC, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. The plan delineates for the first time the action necessary to better understand the arthritis burden in the United States and to more fully apply known, effective interventions. The document, which will serve as a blueprint for public health efforts targeting arthritis, represents the combined effort of nearly 90 organizations, academic institutions, governmental agencies, community interest groups, and others with an interest in arthritis prevention and control.
Implementing the National Arthritis Action Plan
The National Arthritis Action Plan proposes a national coordinated effort for reducing the occurence of arthritis and its accompanying disability by focusing on these three areas:
Strengthening the Science Base
To enhance the science base, CDC will expand on the following innovative activities already under way:
Expanding Communication and Education
Another key element of the National Arthritis Action Plan is effective health communication and education tailored to the public, to people with arthritis and their families, and to health professionals. An example of one such effort is CDC's Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Published in 1996, the report provides critical information for health professionals on the benefits of moderate physical activity in promoting healthy joints, relieving arthritis symptoms, and improving function among people with arthritis. CDC will continue to expand on communications activities to increase awareness of arthritis and its impact, the importance of early diagnosis and appropriate management, and effective prevention strategies.
Promoting Policy and Systems Changes
The Plan also calls for going beyond research and communications to promote policy and environmental
changes that are conducive to prevention efforts. Effecting such changes will require active partnerships
between CDC and state and local health agencies, health care providers, voluntary and professional
organizations, and others. Examples of such changes include developing standards of care for arthritis,
broadening dissemination of the Arthritis Self-Help Course, building effective self-management education
programs such as the Arthritis Self-Help Course into routine arthritis care, and encouraging the
development and implementation of appropriate physical activity programs for people with arthritis.