The Arthritis Newsletter

Fall 2014

Osteoarthritis To Become Huge Cost

By Sheila Kerr with Erin Carruthers


Research predicts that the number of people affected by Osteoarthritis will grow by 30% between 2010 and 2030.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and a leading cause of disability around the world. As the population ages over the next twenty years, the number of Canadians affected by this chronic disease is expected to increase substantially.


Dr. Jacek Kopec, a Senior Research Scientist in epidemiology and a Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC, is one of a team of researchers who have developed a computer simulation technology that is used to estimate future population health and the economic burden of OA using different scenarios. The results can be used to make health care decisions for managing and treating people with OA.


The first phase of the study using the simulation technology found that because of the aging population and the increasing levels of obesity, OA is expected to increase by 30% from 2010 to 2030. They also estimated that the cost of treating Canadians with OA will quadruple over the next two decades to reach $8.1 billion by the year 2031.


How can we reduce the impact of OA on the lives of individuals and on the already stressed health care system? The simulation team is currently looking at what effect reducing obesity will have on the number of people who will have OA in the future and what costs for the individual and society could potentially be saved. Future research will study the relationship between joint injuries and OA.


The model can estimate the need for joint replacement surgery in the next 20 years. Will we have enough qualified surgeons, hospital space and rehabilitation services for Canadians? Using this new technology, policy makers will be able to make more informed decisions, keeping these increased demands in mind.

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