Aims: To describe the age standardised prevalence of symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA) in a nationwide cross sectional survey of 10 412 patients in France, and their functional and work limitations.
Methods: Cases in the survey were compared with their expected counterpart by age, gender, and occupational groupings using data from the 1998 French National Survey on Health Impairment and Disability.
Results: Women represented 66.2% of the sample; mean age was 66.2 years. One third of patients had OA of the knee, 16% of the hip, and 12% of the hand; a third had multiple joint OA. Peak prevalence of symptomatic OA was in the 60–69 year category in women and in the 70–79 year category in men. Agricultural workers showed a significant excess prevalence of OA, with an observed to expected (O/E) ratio of 1.7 in women and 2.3 in men. Linear trends in prevalences between white collar, “mixed” collar, and blue collar workers were also significant, with odds ratios respectively of 1.0, 2.9, and 2.6 in women and 1.0, 1.2, and 1.7 in men. Specific excess prevalence was found in women among housekeepers (O/E 4.4), and in men among unskilled labour workers (O/E 10.3) and truck drivers (O/E 6.7). Total work disability was highest among blue collar workers and partial disability among agricultural workers.
Conclusion: Results contribute to the mounting evidence that OA is potentially aetiologically linked to occupation in a sizeable segment of the population and that OA can no longer be considered an inevitable disease of ageing.
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