The arthritic complaint in primary care: prevalence, related disability, and costs.
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Surveys conducted in five areas of Southern Ontario obtained clinical and service utilization data from 5,478 adults over 25 years of age. The two week period prevalence rates of arthritic and rheumatic (AR) complaints were 1.72 per cent and 2.14 per cent among two groups of users of primary care. In free-living general populations, the rates ranged from 6.23 per cent to 8.84 per cent. It was shown that only 25 per cent of complainants with AR symptoms sought health services. Of all adults seen by family physicians in one year, 28 per cent presented at least once with an AR complaint. While 20 per cent of all respondents reported some physical impairment, 43 per cent of those with AR complaints had impairment. The excess impairment was two per cent. Complaints with AR symptoms used health services at costs 78 per cent higher than the average expenditures in the same communities. The essential role of the primary care practitioner in the identification and control of AR disorders is strongly supported.
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