MEDIA RELEASE: 12 October 2015, SYDNEY
New online resource, EMPOWERED, launched on World Arthritis Day to help people with arthritis better manage their condition.
- The vast majority (86%) of the more than half a million younger Australians (18-49 year old’s) living with arthritis believe there is a need for more publicly available educational information about arthritis to help better manage their condition.
- 41% of 18-49 year old’s living with arthritis have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Half (54%) also reported often feeling down about their arthritis.
- 41% of 18-49 year old’s say their arthritis has had a significant adverse impact on their ability to work, including having to change the type of work they do, reduce their work hours or give up paid work altogether.
To coincide with World Arthritis Day, Arthritis Australia has today announced the launch of a new online resource, called EMPOWERED, to support those living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) to better manage their condition.
Although arthritis is typically associated with an older age group, the results of a new consumer survey of people living with arthritis released today, reveals the hidden struggles the condition is causing among younger Australians (aged 18-49), particularly in relation to their workplace participation, financial status and emotional health.
“World Arthritis Day is a great platform to educate Australians that arthritis is not just a condition that affects older people,” said Ainslie Cahill, Chief Executive Officer of Arthritis Australia.
“Arthritis doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone. It is vital that anyone who is diagnosed with the condition has the support they need to best manage their condition and ensure their quality of life is not hindered.”
EMPOWERED was developed by Arthritis Australia to provide timely, relevant and actionable information and assistance to people living with RA, AS and PsA.
“Our survey found that almost half of Australians living with arthritis are only just coping or not coping at all with their condition, reinforcing why the launch of EMPOWERED is so important in helping those affected to better manage their arthritis. The ultimate goal of the online resource is to empower people living with these specific forms of arthritis to better understand and manage their condition,” Ms Cahill said.
“The survey also highlights the very profound impact that arthritis is having on younger Australians, particularly in relation to their ability to work and on their quality of life. A staggering 51 per cent reported that their arthritis has significantly reduced their quality of life,” she continued.
The survey, conducted by Galaxy Research, also reveals that a quarter of 18-49 year olds believe their arthritis has reduced their ability to hold down a good job, and a third (29%) believe they have been discriminated against at work because of their arthritis1 – highlighting the shortcomings in workplace and community support of this vulnerable group of people.
“It’s disheartening to hear the serious, and often overlooked, impact arthritis is having on the lives of young people living with the condition. Many believe their arthritis has led to financial strain, has caused them to be fearful of the future and put stress on their personal relationships,” said Ms Cahill.
“I urge all Australians living with rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, their healthcare professionals and their families and friends, to visit the EMPOWERED site for information, videos and support on how to best manage these conditions,” Ms Cahill concluded.
To visit the EMPOWERED website log-on to: www.empowered.org.au
For the Arthritis Australia Helpline please call 1800 011 041.
The EMPOWERED website has been independently developed by Arthritis Australia with an educational grant from Janssen (Janssen-Cilag Pty Ltd).
- Nearly one in six Australians has arthritis. That is approximately 3.3 million people. Around 56 per cent of people with arthritis are of working age (18-65 years).
- Arthritis is often referred to as a single disease; however, it is actually an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints where two or more bones meet.
- The most common forms of arthritis are: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus and psoriatic arthritis and, in children, juvenile arthritis.
- Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage and surrounding structures. This can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities that can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, driving a car and preparing food.
- Arthritis is a major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia.
- Arthritis costs our economy more than $23.9 billion each year in medical care and indirect costs, such as loss of earnings and lost production.
- As the population ages, the number of people with arthritis is expected to continue growing, with current trends suggesting that by 2050, approximately 7 million Australians will live with some form of arthritis.
About Arthritis Australia
Arthritis Australia is a charitable not-for-profit organisation, and is the peak arthritis body in Australia. It is supported by affiliate offices in ACT, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. Arthritis Australia provides support and information to people with arthritis as well as their family and friends. It promotes awareness of the challenges facing people with arthritis across the community, and advocates on behalf of consumers to leaders in business, industry and government.
About the Consumer Survey
This study was conducted online by Galaxy Research among members of a permission based panel between Friday 11 September and Tuesday 15 September 2015. Eligibility for the study was determined by claimed diagnosis of arthritis. A representative national sample of 4,332 Australians aged 18 years and older were asked the eligibility question; with the final survey conducted among n=1,052 (26%) who had been diagnosed with arthritis. The study was conducted by Arthritis Australia with an educational grant from Janssen (Janssen-Cilag Pty Ltd).