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The Arthritis Community Research & Evaluation Unit (ACREU)

Arthritis (“arth” meaning joint, “itis” meaning inflammation) and related conditions comprise a large group of disorders affecting the joints, ligaments, tendons, bones and other components of the musculoskeletal (MSK) system.i

Why study arthritis?

  • Approximately one in six Canadians (some 4 million people) aged 15 and older, have some form of arthritis or other rheumatic condition. Two-thirds of those affected are women. Nearly three of five Canadians affected are less than 65 years of age.ii
  • Arthritis is a leading cause of long-term physical disability.iii
  • The number of Canadians aged 15 years and older with arthritis is projected to be more than 20% by 2026 – more than six million Canadians.iv
  • Arthritis research can be used as a model for studying other chronic conditions and disorders associated with aging and, therefore, may have broader implications for other chronic diseases.

For more information about arthritis and its impact on Canadians, please see ACREU’s Key Facts About Arthritis.

What is ACREU?

The Arthritis Community Research & Evaluation Unit (ACREU) is an interdisciplinary research unit founded in 1991 with major funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Health System Link Research Unit grant scheme. ACREU is a primary source for reliable data on arthritis in Canada. Research topics include arthritis and employment, primary care management, access to specialists, joint replacement surgery and rehabilitation service delivery. Rehabilitation was one of the original research themes at ACREU, and it continues to be an important research focus. Research priorities are influenced by health priorities in Ontario and Canada.

Although arthritis is the primary focus, ACREU’s work is also concerned with musculoskeletal research in general, including back disorders and disorders of the bone (e.g., osteoporosis). The Unit brings together specialists in epidemiology, rheumatology, family and community medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and the social sciences. ACREU investigators were major contributors to the first-ever, federally funded national study, Arthritis in Canada (2003) as well as the Arthritis and Related Conditions in Ontario: ICES Research Atlas (1998 and second edition 2004).

ACREU’s research is carried out in partnership with The Arthritis Society, Ontario Division (TASOD) and its Consultation and Rehabilitation Service (CARS), a community-based therapy program.

ACREU’s partners include: The Arthritis Society, Ontario Division (TASOD); Toronto Western Research Institute (TWRI), and the Arthritis & Autoimmunity Research Centre (AARC) Foundation.

Our mission

To ameliorate the adverse impact of arthritis on individuals, their families and the population through comprehensive research leading to the development of innovative programs and policies.

What kind of information does ACREU offer?

ACREU is the leading source for:

  • reliable data on the prevalence, incidence and impact of arthritis in Canada
  • data on the availability and quality of services for arthritis in Canada
  • information on the impact of arthritis and other diseases on individuals, their families and the community

How do ACREU and its work fit into the larger picture of understanding arthritis in Canada?

ACREU provides data on population and health services research to The Arthritis Society, Canadian Arthritis Network, and other national arthritis groups. ACREU collaborates with and provides consultation to the Public Health Agency of Canada on arthritis surveillance and provides information to the Ontario and other provincial ministries of health to inform healthcare policy and planning. ACREU’s work has been instrumental in changing the profile of arthritis in Canada. ACREU continues to provide data that compliment both national and international research on health services and client-centred care as related to arthritis.

Where does ACREU get its funding?

ACREU receives funding from a combination of peer-reviewed grants (e.g., Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Canadian Arthritis Network) and independent contracts. ACREU also receives support from the University Health Network.

ACREU maintains close links with The Arthritis Society, Ontario Division (TASOD) and receives some additional funding from this source to support an ongoing partnership around areas of mutual interest. TASOD is a not-for profit organization devoted solely to the funding and promoting of research, client care and public education in arthritis. It is a semi-autonomous division of The Arthritis Society (TAS), which is a Canada-wide organization.

  1. The Arthritis Society
  2. Arthritis in Canada. September 2003. Chapter 2, p. 8
  3. Ibid., Chapter 1, p. 1
  4. Ibid., Chapter 2, p. 10