Prevalence and burden of osteoarthritis amongst older people in Ireland

The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) in a population aged ≥50 years in Ireland, and to determine its relationship with demographic and health-related variables. A total of 8175 people ≥50 years in Ireland were identified from the TILDA database of whom 45.7% (n = 2941) were male and 54.3% (n = 4431) were female. The overall prevalence of OA was 12.9% (women-17.3%; men-9.4%). Frequency increased with age, with prevalence in those aged ≥ 80 years twice that [17.7%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 13.97, 21.54] of those aged 50-60 years (8.23, 95% CI 7.32, 9.13). On multivariable analysis, OA had a significant association (P < 0.02) with female gender, older age, pain intensity, higher body mass index (BMI), fear of falling, greater number of physical limitations and medication use. In particular, there was a strong association between the use of NSAIDS and the presence of OA [adj odd ratio (OR) = 5.88, 95% CI 4.16, 8.31]. A significant association was also found between OA and growing number of chronic diseases (adj OR = 2.75 9, 95% CI = 2.44, 3.09).

OA is a prevalent and multifaceted condition, with comparable frequency of self-reported OA in Ireland with similar populations. Assessment and management should target potentially modifiable factors such as BMI, pain, physical limitations, polypharmacy and fear of falling. More research is necessary to understand the complex inter-relationships between these and other risk-associated variables.