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Prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis in Italy: the Chiavari study
  1. Marco A Cimmino,
  2. Maria Parisi,
  3. Gianluigi Moggiana,
  4. Giuseppe S Mela,
  5. Silvano Accardo
  1. Rheumatology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Genova, Italy
  1. Dr M A Cimmino, Unità di Reumatologia, Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Viale Benedetto XV, 6, 16132 Genova, Italy.


OBJECTIVE To ascertain the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in an Italian general population.

METHODS The study was performed in the years 1991–92 in Chiavari, a small town located on the Ligurian coast, and involved 4456 subjects aged 16 years or more from four general practices. The subjects received a postal questionnaire developed to detect patients with current or past inflammatory joint diseases. The age and sex distribution of the sample were similar to those of the Italian population from the 1992 census. Patients reporting a history of joint swelling in at least a pair of symmetrical joints were reviewed by a rheumatologist. The clinical records of non-responders and responders who failed to attend the clinic were also reviewed.

RESULTS 3294 of 4456 (73.9%) subjects answered to the questionnaire. The mean (SD) age of the 3294 responders was 48.3 (19.3) years; 53.7% of them were female. Swelling in at least two symmetrical joints was reported by 230 subjects (7%). Among them, 11 patients fulfilling the 1987 ARA criteria for RA were identified. The prevalence of RA was 0.33% (95% CI 0.13, 0.53) in the general population, 0.13% (95% CI 0, 0.31) in men, and 0.51% (95% CI 0.18, 0.84) in women.

CONCLUSIONS These data are consistent with the results of three earlier studies published in the fifties in the Italian literature and confirm that the prevalence of RA is low in Italy and has remained unchanged in the last 40 years.

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • prevalence
  • epidemiology
  • Italy

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