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Health & Safety - Public Health Education

TN Arthritis Education Partnership

Arthritis: A Public Health Problem

Arthritis prevalence in Tennessee ranks among the highest in the nation. It is estimated that 1.5 million, or one of three adults in Tennessee, have some form of arthritis. Arthritis has been portrayed as an old person’s disease, an inevitable part of aging that must be endured. In actuality, arthritis affects people of all ages. Forty-five percent of Tennesseans diagnosed with arthritis are under 55 years of age. Some forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, can be prevented with weight control and precautions to avoid certain occupational and sports injuries. Arthritis can not be cured, but it can be controlled. Learning how to manage your arthritis can help decrease pain, increase physical activity, reduce physician visits and decrease stiffness.

The Tennessee Arthritis Action Plan ( serves as a framework for arthritis prevention and education efforts in Tennessee. The plan reflects the need to build the systems and networks necessary to address the burden of arthritis in Tennessee.

The state specific plan is in response to the National Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy ( which was developed in 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (, the Arthritis Foundation (, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and more than 90 other organizations. It recommends a variety of activities to reduce the pain and disability and improve the quality of life of persons affected by arthritis.

The Partnership

In response to the Tennessee Arthritis Action Plan’s  recognition of the importance of partnerships to create opportunities to address the burden of arthritis in a variety of settings, the University of Tennessee (UT) Extension and Tennessee Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, have pooled each organization’s resources to expand the availability of educational programs and resources to Tennesseans, especially those in rural communities. County UT Extension educators have been certified to teach the Arthritis Foundation’s evidence-based programs: Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, Tai Chi and Walk with Ease Program.


  • To develop a cadre of county UT Extension educators who are certified Arthritis Foundation instructors in Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, Tai Chi and Walk with Ease Program.
  • To offer these evidence-based programs in rural communities through this network of UT Extension educators.
  • To deliver these evidence-based arthritis education courses tailored to meet the health literacy level of participants.
  • To participate in the use of evidence-based programs targeting arthritis education.
  • To collaborate with other agencies and professionals addressing arthritis at the county and state levels.
  • To disseminate arthritis information through media and places where people frequent.
  • To promote the recommendations and resources of the Arthritis Foundation.

Arthritis Facts

  • There are more than 100 forms of arthritis. The most common types are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Scleroderma, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Juvenile Arthritis.
  • Arthritis affects 70 million Americans, that mean's 1 in 3 adults in Tennessee, or 1.5 million.
  • Juvenile arthritis affects nearly one out of every 1,000 children in our country, approximately 300,000 nationwide. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses of childhood.
  • Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in our nation.
  • Arthritis affects people regardless of age, race or gender. Nearly 3 out 5 people with arthritis are younger than 65.
  • Arthritis costs our society more than $124.8 billion annually. This figure includes an estimated $42.6 billion in direct medical costs and $82.2 billion in indirect costs (lost productivity).

State Contact Information

For more information about this partnership or for a list of arthritis education programs available in your area, contact:

Barbara (Bobbi) Clarke, PhD, RD
Professor & Extension Health Specialist,
Co-Director UT Center for Community Health Literacy
University of Tennessee Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
119 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-4501
Telephone: (865) 974-8197
Fax: (865) 974-5370
Jessica E. Taylor, MPH
Community Health Specialist, Arthritis Education Program Coordinator
University of Tennessee Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
2621 Morgan Circle, 218-C Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-4501
Phone: 865-974-7393
Fax: 865-974-5370
Website:Family and Consumer Sciences
Katie Christian
Program Coordinator, Tennessee
Arthritis Foundation, Southeast Region, Inc.
209 10th Ave South, Suite 228
Nashville, TN 37203
Direct Phone Line: 615.806.8538
Fax 615.254.8316

Great Arthritis Web Sites

To learn more about the different types of arthritis and ways to manage arthritis, check out these great Web sites. Arthritis Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For more information about the UT Extension Health & Safety programs, please contact your local County Extension Representative.