Table 1

Overview of prevalences of self reported musculoskeletal diseases from population-based surveys

Prevalence (%)
Country, study, year of surve (reference)Age group (years)Number studiedQuestion on or description of musculoskeletal diseasesMenWomenTotal
HALS, Health and Activity Limitation Survey; NHIS, National Health Interview Survey; HANES, Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; HES for Health Examination Survey; SOA for Supplement Of Aging; NLTC, National Long Term Care Surveys.
Canada, HIS, 1978–79 (Lee 1985)2Not specifiedNot specifiedArthritis or rheumatism, and serious trouble with back or spine or other bones and joints13.218.816.0
Canada, HALS, 1986–87 (Reynolds 1992)3⩾15132337Five types of disabling musculoskeletal disease (arthritis, back, trauma, bone) based on existing codes in the HALS data as developed by a team of rheumatologists, epidemiologists, and biostatisticians5.723.754.76
Canada, Ontario Health Survey, 1990 (Badley 1994, 1995)4,5⩾1645650Among list of 19 health conditions:
    Arthritis or rheumatism15.721.18.5
    Serious trouble with back pain11.410.511.0
    Other serious problems with the joints or bones5.54.24.8
Any musculoskeletal21.6
Canada, NHIS, 1994 (Wang 2000)6⩾2039240Do you have arthritis or rheumatism diagnosed by a health professional?10.517.6
USA, HES, 1960–62 (Miles 1993)7⩾551551Have you ever had any reason to think that you may have rheumatism or arththritis? Did a doctor tell you it was rheumatism or arthritis?37.2
USA, NHANES II, 1976–1980 (Miles 1993)7⩾556846Has a doctor ever told you that you had arthritis/gout? (among list of chronic conditions)44.3
USA, NHIS-SOA, 1984 (Miles 1993)7⩾5514359During the past 12 months, did you have arthritis? (among list of chronic conditions)47.7
USA, Social Security Survey of Disability and Work, 1978 (Pincus 1987)818–645652(Among list of 37 conditions)
    Back stiffness2.6
    Other back problems7.9
USA, NLTCS, 1982, 1984, 1989 (Manton 1995)9⩾656088/5899/4463Arthritis (among list of 16 chonic conditions)71.1 (1982)
70.5 (1984)
63.1 (1989)
USA, NHIS, 1989–91 (Helmick 1995)10All59289Self reported arthritis and other rheumatic diseases according to ICD-9 codes recommended by the USA National Arthritis Data Workshop11.718.015.0
USA, NHIS, 1994–95 (MMWR 2001)11All36057Self reported arthritis and other rheumatic diseases according to ICD-9 codes recommended by the USA National Arthritis Data Workshop12.519.516.1
USA, Health and Retirement Survey, 1992 (Yelin 1992)1251–618739Arthritis or problems with the back or feet (among list of chronic conditions)62.4
Arthritis or problems with the back or feet only (no other chronic condition)20.0
Finland, Mini-Finland Health Survey, 1978–80 (Heliövaara 1993)13⩾307217Have you any defect or injury that reduces your general working capacity, or any chronic illness? (If yes) Define or describe these impairments or illnesses
    Inflammatory polyarthritis2.1
    Low back disorder11.8
    Neck-shoulder disorder3.2
    Musculoskeletal disease (any)20.6
Scotland, Health Survey, 1993 (Cohen 1995)14⩾166212Arthritis or painful joints39.7
Norway, HIS, 1985 (Brage 1997)1516–666681Musculoskeletal disease (according to ICD-8 codes 710–738, 754–756, 787)17.320.619.0
Norway, survey, year not specified (Gram 1997)16Not specified14420Rheumatoid arthritis1.61.6
The Netherlands, NHIS, 1989–92 (Picavet 1997)17⩾1624191Musculoskeletal conditions (arthritis, osteoarthritis, and severe back problems)17.5
Australia (South), South Australian Health Omnibus Study, 1995 (Hill, 1999)18⩾153001Have you ever been told by a doctor that you have arthritis?16.627.622.2
By type:
    Rheumatoid arthritis3.24.9
    Other or unspecified8.310.8