A $1.125 million CDC grant to benefit Iowans with arthritis


Participants in a 2022 Walk With Ease session. The evidence-based program was developed to help reduce symptoms of arthritis and has many other benefits.

Statewide effort will increase the number of Iowans accessing arthritis programs

CLIVE, Iowa – More than 58 million adults in the United States have arthritis, a leading cause of work-related disability. Many adults with arthritis have moderate or severe joint pain and approximately 44% of adults with arthritis report limitations, including trouble doing daily activities. Further, arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitations are most prevalent among adults with worse physical and mental health profiles and greater social disadvantage.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Iowa State University (ISU) translational research network (U-TuRN) led a collaborative grant proposal to the CDC to build capacity for improving arthritis care in Iowa. The funded 5-year ($1.125M) Cooperative Agreement award is the first state-level funding that Iowa has received to address arthritis care.

It was developed in direct collaboration with the Iowa Community HUB, a nonprofit organization operating as a community care hub to serve clinical and community partners in Iowa. Collectively, the team will build capacity to promote the broad dissemination of arthritis appropriate evidence-based interventions (AAEBIs) across the state. The active collaboration of an array of clinical and community partners will facilitate this reach across the state. Dissemination will be directly facilitated by the state network of county extension offices supported by ISU Extension and Outreach.

Iowa, as a predominantly rural state, has an overall rate of diagnosed arthritis of 25.9%, which translates to over 600,000 Iowa adults with arthritis. Rates of arthritis vary considerably by county due to disparities in access and care related to arthritis and physical activity counseling. Thus, a specific goal is to reach out to underserved, rural populations to help reduce disparities in arthritis prevention and treatment.

Evidence shows that physical activity programming can reduce symptoms and enable better management of arthritis, but there are a number of barriers to receiving appropriate interventions. The project will focus on promoting access to an array of Arthritis Appropriate Evidence-Based Interventions (AAEBIs) across the state. Examples of priority AAEBIs promoted through the project are the Walk with Ease program (led by ISU), group formats of Tai Chi for Arthritis (facilitated through the University of Iowa) and the Better Choices Better Health self-management program (managed by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services). The Walk with Ease (WWE) program developed by the Arthritis Foundation is the primary intervention strategy as it is available in group, self-directed and hybrid formats to support programming across the state.

The project will promote training and effective implementation of WWE and other AAEBIs in community-based settings across the state in collaboration with the state network of county Extension offices, Area Agencies on Aging, and the Iowa Alliance of YMCAs. The project also complements statewide efforts of the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition to promote awareness about fall prevention programming since frailty and arthritis are also linked to risks for falling. Over the five-year project, the team will build capacity for a sustainable, statewide system to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes in Iowans with arthritis.

Utilizing the HUB model

The major strength of the model used in the project is the integration of state agencies, clinical providers and community partners through the Iowa Community HUB. The general advantage of a Hub model is that it centralizes and coordinates an array of administrative functions, including contracting with health care organizations, payment operations, management of referrals, fidelity and compliance functions, data security and reporting. The specific advantage of the Iowa Community HUB is that it provides a centralized point of reference for coordinating enrollment and delivery of AAEBIs. Providers in the state have a singular point of contact to refer patients that would benefit from AAEBIs. Participants that are referred will also be supported by trained HUB Navigators that can assist in finding options to directly support individuals based on their needs, interests and geographic location.

The project harmonizes efforts from a diverse network of partners, providers and organizations across the state. The HUB has established six different project teams including a Delivery Organization Team, a statewide AAEBI Coordination Team, a Referral Provider Team, a Connector Partners Team, a Marketing Team, and an Evaluation Team. Organizations interested in partnering on the project, receiving training to deliver AAEBIs or in facilitating referrals into programming can learn more by contacting the HUB at info@iacommunityhub.org or 515-635-1285. Individuals interested in becoming more physically active or in participating in the various AAEBIs can also contact the HUB to find out about programming options in their county or community[1]. Visit the Program Library page to join a program or the Individual and Family page to access screening tools or to contact a HUB Navigator with questions.

Grant Project Partners

  • Aging Resources of Central Iowa
  • Connections Area Agencies on Aging
  • Hello Better Healthcare, LLC
  • Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging
  • Iowa Compass  
  • Iowa HHS, Division of Aging and Disability
  • Iowa HHS, Division of Strategic Operations
  • Iowa Rural Health Association
  • ISU Extension and Outreach
  • ISU Translational Research Network (U-TuRN)
  • MercyOne Des Moines 
  • Primary Health Care     
  • UIHC Trauma Program  
  • Arthritis Foundation – National / Iowa Findhelp
  • Iowa Alliance of YMCAs
  • Iowa Community Hub
  • Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition 
  • Iowa HHS, Division of Public Health
  • Iowa Primary Care Association  
  • ISU Department of Kinesiology
  • ISU Indicators Program
  • Iowa Total Care
  • Milestones Area Agencies on Aging
  • Telligen
  • UnityPoint Health – Des Moines


Trina Radske-Suchan, President/CEO
Iowa Community HUB

Greg Welk
Distinguished Professor, Barbara E. Forker Professor in Kinesiology
Iowa State University