Clinical therapy of arthritis benefits patients only when they are under the care of a physician or other health professional. We created profiles of persons who have doctor-diagnosed arthritis but are not currently being treated for it in order to better understand who they are. Individuals who answered “no” to the question “Are you presently being treated by a doctor or other health professional for arthritis or joint symptoms?” were categorized as having no current treatment (NCT). In this cross-sectional, descriptive study of noninstitutionalized US adults aged 45 years or older with self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis, demographics, current symptoms, physical functioning, arthritis limitations and interference in life activities, and level of agreement with treatment and attitude statements were assessed. NCT was reported by more than half of the sample population (52%). Of those with NCT, 27% expressed fair/poor health, 40% reported being limited by their arthritis, 51% had daily arthritis pain, 59% reported 2 or more symptomatic joints, and 19% reported the lowest third of physical functionality. Despite NCT, 83 percent of those with NCT agreed or strongly agreed that visiting a doctor for diagnosis and treatment was critical.
More than half of those aged 45 and older with arthritis were not currently receiving treatment, despite the fact that a significant proportion of them had severe symptoms and poor physical function and could benefit from clinical management and guidance, supplemented by community-based public health interventions. Further study on the causes of NCT may provide viable intervention areas to address lost treatment chances and enhance the quality of life and functioning.