(StatePoint) When Velia Martínez was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2005, she was shocked. The joint pain, fatigue and other symptoms she was experiencing made it difficult for her to get up in the mornings, which was frustrating because she had always been an active person.
Currently, 4.4 million Hispanic Americans live with some form of doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. While the prevalence of arthritis among Hispanics is less than non-Hispanic whites, they are more than twice as likely to become disabled from arthritis and experience joint damage. These statistics are a testament to the fact that health disparities in Hispanic communities, including adequate access to healthcare and information, far predate the COVID-19 pandemic.
The good news is that when it comes to arthritis, efforts are being made to close the health gap and amplify the voices of Hispanic Americans. CreakyJoints Español and CreakyJoints, the multicultural digital arthritis communities for patients and caregivers worldwide, has created ArthritisPower Español, a free patient-centered research registry available entirely in Spanish for people living with joint, bone and inflammatory skin conditions, like arthritis. ArthritisPower Español invites Spanish speakers, many of whom self-identify as Hispanic, to proactively participate in their disease management and contribute to a better understanding of life with arthritis.
Available as a free mobile and desktop application, ArthritisPower first launched in English in 2015 and now includes more than 30,000 people who track their symptoms and treatment experiences using the same measures used in their health care provider’s office. Patients can track pain, fatigue, physical function, and more, and share such data directly with their doctor to discuss during appointments. They can also participate in voluntary research studies. Overall, Hispanics are under-represented in medical research, and their collective data will be a powerful tool in informing researchers and health providers about the needs of Hispanic Americans living with arthritis.
“It’s incredibly exciting to offer the Spanish-speaking community an easy-to-use tool to monitor the aspects of their disease most important to them,” says Daniel Hernandez, MD, director of Medical Affairs and Hispanic Outreach, CreakyJoints and CreakyJoints Español. “We know that patients who are educated about their disease and actively participate in shared decision making with their providers have improved health outcomes.”
After spending six years using a cane, Martínez now walks without one and exercises every afternoon in the pool, thanks to her proactive and continuous efforts working with her doctor to find the best ways of managing her chronic condition. She plans to use ArthritisPower Español as part of her disease management. “This tool will allow me to stay on top of how my symptoms ebb and flow over time and then I can share that data with my doctor, helping us both keep my arthritis under control. Using the disease-tracking measures and participating in studies is easy and takes just a few minutes each week,” she says.
More than a disease of older adults, arthritis affects over 50 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds, and thanks to new tools, a greater number of patients will be able to proactively participate in their disease management, helping address long-term health disparities.
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