Few studies have evaluated hospitalizations associated with rheumatic disease in Indigenous North American populations. The objective of this study was to determine the characteristics of people hospitalized with rheumatic disease in Alaska, including a comparison of hospitalizations for Alaska Native/American Indian (AN/AI) people in Alaska compared with those of other races.
We used statewide hospital discharge data from the Alaska Health Facilities Data Reporting Program from 2015 to 2018 for this study. Cases were ascertained based on discharge diagnosis (any listed) of a defined set of rheumatic diseases. We determined characteristics associated with rheumatic disease hospitalizations, including age, gender, and race. Using multivariate modeling, we determined risk factors for hospitalization overall, as well as for specific rheumatic diseases. We compared characteristics of hospital encounters for people with or without rheumatic diseases and by race.
We identified 11,023 people ever hospitalized with rheumatic disease in the study period and 92,090 controls hospitalized but without any rheumatic disease diagnosis. Cases were older than controls and more likely to be female. The three most common types of rheumatic disease associated with hospitalization were osteoarthritis, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis. Compared with other races, AN/AI people were more likely to be hospitalized with rheumatic disease, and this association was true for all specific diseases other than gout.
Hospitalizations associated with rheumatic disease are common in Alaska, with an increased likelihood of hospitalization for AN/AI people. This adds to the literature on health disparities in Indigenous North American populations.

© 2022 The Authors. ACR Open Rheumatology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American College of Rheumatology.