To calculate the incidence rates of osteoarthritis (OA) and to describe the changes in incidence using 18 years of administrative health records.
We analyzed visits to health professionals and hospital admission records in a random sample (n = 640,000) from British Columbia, Canada, from 1991/1992 through 2008/2009. OA was defined in 2 ways: (1) at least 1 physician diagnosis or 1 hospital admission; and (2) at least 2 physician diagnoses in 2 years or 1 hospital admission. Crude and age-standardized rates were calculated, and the annual relative changes were estimated from the Poisson regression models.
In 2008/2009, the overall crude incidence rate (95% CI) of OA using definition 1 was 14.6 (14.0–14.8); [12.5 (12.0–13.0) among men and 16.3 (15.8–16.8) among women] per 1000 person-years. The rates were lower by about 44% under definition 2. For the period 2000/2001–2008/2009, crude incidence rates based on definition 1 varied from 11.8 to 14.2 per 1000 person-years for men, and from 15.7 to 18.5 for women. Annually, on average, crude rates rose by about 2.5–3.3% for both men and women. The age-adjusted rates increased by 0.6–0.8% among men and showed no trend among women.
Our study generated updated incidence rates of administrative OA for the Province of British Columbia. Physician-diagnosed overall incidence rates of OA varied with the case definitions used; however, trends were similar in both case definitions. Age-adjusted rates among men increased slightly during the period 2000/2001–2008/2009. These findings have implications for projecting future prevalence and costs of OA.