Does osteoarthritis affect brain activities?



Scientific study title:

Osteoarthritis and cognitive function: A population-based cross-sectional study



Principal Investigator:

Helen Prlic, MA



Dr. Linda Li, BSc (PT), MSc, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada

Dr. Hui Xie, BSc, MS, PhD, Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Diane Lacaille, MDCM, MHSc, Professor, Division of Rheumatology, UBC; Scientific Director, Arthritis Research Canada

Dr. Antonio Avina-Zubieta, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Head, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, UBC; Senior Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada


Study Start Date:

January 2023


Study End Date:

January 2024


Why do this research?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 3.5 million Canadians. Past research has shown that there is a connection between OA and other chronic illnesses, such as heart disease. However, there is little research on the link between OA and brain activities, including memory.  In particular, the research on the association between OA and dementia is inconsistent.

This study will focus on females, as both OA and dementia are more common in females compared with males. Additionally, OA is a leading cause of disability in Canadian females. The goal of this research is to determine if self-reported memory problems are more (or less) common in females with OA compared to females without OA. We will also determine if memory problems in females with OA are associated with other risk factors. In the long-term, the goal of this research is to reduce mortality and improve the quality of life of females with arthritis.


What will be done?

Letters of invitation and consent forms for an online health questionnaire were mailed to 5,000 individuals aged 19 years or older, selected at random from the general population of BC; 2,000 had a diagnosis of OA, and 3,000 were selected as non-OA controls. We obtained 332 completed questionnaires from female respondents, 196 OA cases and 136 controls without OA.

These data will allow us to:
1) compare self-reported memory problems in women with and without OA and determine if those with OA have a higher or lower risk of memory problems.
2) determine if the memory problems in women with OA are linked to behavioral factors (poor diet, smoking, alcohol intake, physical inactivity, poor sleep), metabolic factors (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol) and earlier menopause.

Additionally, we will link these previously collected questionnaire data to administrative health data from the BC Ministry of Health. These linked data will provide further information on healthcare utilization, comorbid diagnoses (e.g. hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease), laboratory results (e.g. blood glucose, cholesterol), and all medications dispensed.

Who is involved?

We will use survey data from 332 completed questionnaires from female respondents. Of the 332 surveys, 196 females have OA, and 136 do not have OA.


How are Equity, Diversity and Inclusion addressed or taken into consideration?

The analysis will focus on females but we will also look at males and the entire cohort. Sex, gender, and ethnicity based data was collected and will be included in the analysis.


Funding Agency

This research is funded by an Arthritis Health Professional Association grant, made possible through the financial support of Organon Canada.