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The Johnston County Health Study is a continuation of the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, a population-based study, which examines the incidence, prevalence, and progression of osteoarthritis in rural Johnston County, North Carolina. This long-term study has received continuous funding from government and other sources since 1991.

From 1991 to 1998, the original group of 3,187 adult African-American and White participants aged 45 years or older were enrolled. An additional 1,015 participants were enrolled during 2003–2004. The study’s participants were from six Johnston County townships. Since the beginning of the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, our research team has met with participants every few years to collect data on their health. The data from these participants has contributed significantly to the ongoing, national effort by the medical community to better understand osteoarthritis and its associated health conditions.

For more than 27 years, the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project has collected extensive clinical data, such as x-rays, genetic data, and other information that provides important new insights into many factors that affect our health. The research now includes the study of health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, for a more comprehensive look at chronic diseases and how they are related to each other. We continue to follow up with the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project participants about their health.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded the project to enroll a new group of participants from Johnston County. The new group includes a younger population, starting at age 35, who are either African-American, Hispanic, or White. Recent medical literature provides evidence that osteoarthritis is occurring at younger ages, making it more important than ever to conduct additional research to address the needs of this younger group. Adding Hispanic participants addresses the limited knowledge that exists regarding osteoarthritis in this ethnic group. The enrollment of a new group of participants is called the Johnston County Health Study.