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Osteoarthritis of finger joints in Finns aged 30 or over: prevalence, determinants, and association with mortality
  1. M M Haara1,
  2. P Manninen2,
  3. H Kröger3,
  4. J P A Arokoski4,
  5. A Kärkkäinen5,
  6. P Knekt6,
  7. A Aromaa6,
  8. M Heliövaara6
  1. 1Department of Public Health and General Practice University of Kuopio, Finland
  2. 2Kuopio Regional Institute of Occupational Health, Finland
  3. 3Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland
  4. 4Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland
  5. 5Tampere, Finland
  6. 6National Public Health Institute, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr M M Haara, Department of Public Health and General Practice, University of Kuopio, PO Box 1627, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland;


Background: Prevalence and risk factors of osteoarthritis (OA) in finger joints have been amply explored in previous studies. However, no study has focused on finger joint OA as a predictor of mortality.

Objective: To investigate finger joint OA for its associations with alleged risk factors and with life expectancy in an extensive health survey.

Methods: From 1978 to 1980 a representative population sample of 8000 Finns aged 30 years or over was invited to participate in a comprehensive health examination; 90% accepted. Hand radiographs were taken from 3595 subjects. By the end of 1994, 897 of these had died.

Results: The prevalence of OA of Kellgren’s grade 2 to 4 in any finger joint and in at least two symmetrical pairs of distal interphalangeal joints (DIPs) was 44.8% and 16.0%, respectively. Age and body mass index were significant determinants for OA both in any finger joint and in symmetrical DIP OA. The history of physical workload in women showed a positive association with OA in any finger joint. Smoking in men seemed to protect against symmetrical DIP OA. As adjusted for the determinants above, symmetrical DIP OA predicted mortality in women (relative risk (RR), 1.23; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.01 to 1.51), but not in men (RR 0.89; 95% CI 0.68 to 1.16). In men, however, OA in any finger joint significantly predicted cardiovascular deaths (RR 1.42; 95% CI 1.05 to 1.92).

Conclusion: OA in any finger joint and symmetrical DIP OA have different risk factor profiles and predict mortality in different patterns between men and women.

  • epidemiology
  • hand
  • osteoarthritis
  • mortality
  • risk factor
  • BMI, body mass index
  • CI, confidence interval
  • DIP, distal interphalangeal
  • IP, interphalangeal
  • MCP, metacarpophalangeal
  • OA, osteoarthritis
  • OR, odds ratio
  • PIP, proximal interphalangeal
  • RR, relative risk

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