Due to restrictions in social gatherings imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, physical and other daily activities were limited among the older adults. The present study aimed to estimate the change in osteoarthritis prevalence among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh.
This repeated cross-sectional study was conducted through telephone interviews among older adults aged 60 years and above on two successive occasions (October 2020 and September 2021) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. The prevalence of osteoarthritis was measured by asking the participants if they had osteoarthritis or joint pain problems.
A total of 2077 participants (1032 in 2020-survey and 1045 in 2021-survey) participated in the study. The prevalence of self-reported joint pains or osteoarthritis significantly increased from 45.3% in 2020 to 54.7% in 2021 (P = 0.006), with an increasing odd in the adjusted analysis (aOR 1.27, 95% CI 1.04–1.54). We also found that osteoarthritis prevalence significantly increased among the participants from the Chattogram and Mymensingh divisions, aged 60–69 years, males, married, rural residents, and living with a family. A significant increase was also documented among those who received formal schooling, had a family income of 5000–10000 BDT, resided with a large family, were unemployed or retired, and lived away from a health facility.
Our study reported a significant increased prevalence of osteoarthritis among older adults from 2020 to 2021 during this pandemic in Bangladesh. This study highlights the need for the development and implementation of initiatives for the screening and management of osteoarthritis through a primary health care approach during any public health emergencies.