Two-Thirds (67%) of Canadians Are Familiar With Arthritis; Vast Majority (90%) Correctly Agree That Joint Pain Affects All Ages

Despite Awareness, Some (44%) Incorrectly Believe Joint Pain Primarily Affects Older People; One-Quarter (27%) Would Not View Joint Pain as a Health Priority If They Had It

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Toronto, ON – Two-thirds (67%) of Canadians say they are familiar (18% very/48% somewhat) with arthritis; its risk factors, treatments, symptoms and complications, while one-third (33%) say they are ‘not familiar’ (5% not at all/29% not very) with the condition.

Despite this level of familiarity, Canadians have varying perceptions on arthritis and joint pain. A full nine in ten (90%) ‘agree’ (52% strongly/38% somewhat) that ‘joint pain affects people of all ages’, while only one in ten (10%) ‘disagree’ (2% strongly/8% somewhat). When broken down between those familiar with arthritis and those who aren’t, those who are familiar (93%) are more likely to agree that joint pain affects people of all ages, while Canadians not familiar with the condition (84%) who agree with this statement fall below the national average.

While most Canadians agree that joint pain affects people of all ages, some erroneously believe that the condition targets certain people. Four in ten (44%) ‘agree’ (8% strongly/37% somewhat) that ‘joint pain primarily affects older Canadians’, contrasted to six in ten (56%) who ‘disagree’ (21% strongly/35% somewhat) with this sentiment. A majority of those not familiar with arthritis (51%), however, agree that it primarily affects old people, compared a minority (41%) of those familiar with the condition.

Some Canadians would even go so far as to say that if they were diagnosed with joint pain, they wouldn’t be concerned about it. One-quarter (27%) ‘agree’ (4% strongly/24% somewhat) that if they had joint pain, they would not view it as a health priority, compared to three-quarters (73%) of Canadians who ‘disagree’ (27% strongly/45% somewhat) and would treat it as a priority. One third (32%) of Canadians unfamiliar with arthritis agree that they wouldn’t view joint pain as a health priority if it affected them, which is more than the one-quarter (25%) of familiar Canadians who agree with this statement. The table below compares Canadians perceptions of arthritis overall with those who are familiar and unfamiliar with the condition:

(Click to enlarge image)

Some Canadians also feel embarrassed to seek treatment or discuss their problems with arthritis with family or friends. The top reason Canadians feel embarrassed to get help or discuss their ailment is that ‘they don’t want to be perceived as complaining’ (45%). The list below fully outlines reasons why Canadians feel embarrassed to seek treatment or discuss their joint pain or arthritis with their friends and family:

  • “I don’t want to be perceived as complaining” – 45%
  • “I don’t want people to think I am just out of shape” – 29%
  • “Because I feel too young to have joint pain” – 26%
  • “I should be able to just ‘walk it off’” – 19%
  • “I don’t view joint pain as a health priority” – 18%
  • “Because I am too young to have joint pain” – 15%
  • Other mention – 6%

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between June 18 to 25th, 2012, on behalf of The Arthritis Society. For this survey a sample of 1,013 Canadians from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Associate Vice President
Ipsos Reid Public Affairs

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Two-Thirds (67%) of Canadians Are Familiar With Arthritis; Vast Majority (90%) Correctly Agree That Joint Pain Affects All Ages


Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs