While depressive symptoms and knee pain are independently known to impede daily walking in older adults, it is unknown whether positive affect promotes daily walking. This study investigated this association among adults with knee osteoarthritis (OA) and examined whether knee pain modified this association.
This study is a cross-sectional analysis of the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study. We included 1,018 participants (mean ± SD age 63.1 ± 7.8 years, 60% women) who had radiographic knee OA and had worn a StepWatch monitor to record their number of steps per day. High and low positive affect and depressive symptoms were based on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Knee pain was categorized as present in respondents who reported pain on most days at both a clinic visit and a telephone screening.
Compared to respondents with low positive affect (27% of all respondents), those with high positive affect (63%) walked a similar number of steps per day, while those with depressive symptoms (10%) walked less (adjusted β −32.6 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) −458.9, 393.8] and −579.1 [95% CI −1,274.9, 116.7], respectively). There was a statistically significant interaction of positive affect by knee pain (P = 0.0045). Among the respondents with knee pain (39%), those with high positive affect walked significantly more steps per day (adjusted β 711.0 [95% CI 55.1, 1,366.9]) than those with low positive affect.
High positive affect was associated with more daily walking among adults with painful knee OA. Positive affect may be an important psychological factor to consider for promoting physical activity among people with painful knee OA.