Rheumatoid arthritis as underlying cause of death in 31 countries, 1987-2011: Trend analysis of WHO mortality database

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Objective To examine trends in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as an underlying cause of death (UCD) in 31 countries across the globe during 1987-2011. Methods Data on mortality and population were collected from the World Health Organization mortality database and the United Nations. Age-standardized mortality rates (ASMR) were calculated by means of direct standardization. We applied joinpoint regression analysis for trend analysis. Between-country disparities were examined using between-country variance, and Gini coefficient. Due to low numbers of deaths, we smoothed our ASMR using a three-year moving average. The changes in number of RA deaths between 1987 and 2011 were decomposed using two counterfactual scenarios. Results The absolute number of deaths with RA registered as UCD declined from 9281 (0.12% of all-cause deaths) in 1987 to 8428 in 2011 (0.09% of all-cause deaths). The mean ASMR declined from 7.1/million person-years in 1987-89 to 3.7 in 2009-11 (48.2% reduction). Reduction of 25% or more in ASMR occurred in 21 countries while a corresponding increase was observed in 3 countries. There was a persistent reduction in RA mortality and, on average, the ASMR declined by 3.0% per year. The absolute and relative between-country disparities declined over the study period.

CONCLUSION: Mortality rates attributable to RA have declined globally. However, there were substantial between-country disparities in RA mortality, though the disparities decreased over time. Population aging combined with fall in RA mortality may lead to an increase in the economic burden of disease that should be taken into consideration in policy-making. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


External organisations
  • Boston University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1560-1565
JournalArthritis & Rheumatology
Issue number8
Early online date2017 Apr 20
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

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