“What do you expect? You're just getting older”: A comparison of perceived osteoarthritis-related and aging-related health experiences in middle- and older-age adults
Article first published online: 30 NOV 2006
Copyright © 2006 by the American College of Rheumatology
Arthritis Care & Research
Volume 55, Issue 6, pages 905–912, 15 December 2006
How to Cite
Gignac, M. A. M., Davis, A. M., Hawker, G., Wright, J. G., Mahomed, N., Fortin, P. R. and Badley, E. M. (2006), “What do you expect? You're just getting older”: A comparison of perceived osteoarthritis-related and aging-related health experiences in middle- and older-age adults. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 55: 905–912. doi: 10.1002/art.22338
- Issue published online: 30 NOV 2006
- Article first published online: 30 NOV 2006
- Manuscript Accepted: 2 MAR 2006
- Manuscript Received: 23 JUN 2005
- Canadian Arthritis Network, a Network of Centres of Excellence
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research Scientist award
- F. M. Hill Chair in Academic Women's Medicine
- Robert B. Salter Chair in Surgical Research
- The Arthritis Society and the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
- Health changes;
- Focus groups;
- Patient perceptions
To compare the health experiences of middle- and older-age adults with moderate osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms with experiences of individuals with no chronic health conditions. Similarities and differences in health changes, the meaning of these changes, and their impact were examined.
Sixteen focus groups (10 OA, 6 control) were conducted with 53 women and 37 men (age 39–88 years). OA participants were recruited from practitioners' offices and The Arthritis Society, Ontario Division. Additional OA participants and controls were recruited from community centers and newspaper advertisements. All participants were asked about changes in health, the impact of these changes, and self-management strategies. Participants also completed standardized measures including demographic information; the Short Form 36; Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index; and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire.
Differences in the depth, breadth, and meaning of symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and fatigue were reported with little overlap between OA and control groups. OA was often seen as part of a normal aging process requiring acceptance, not treatment. However, younger OA participants reported more distress and frustration managing the disease. OA participants reported an impact of their health on work, leisure, social activities, and relationships that was described as upsetting compared with controls.
This study illuminates personal and social factors associated with OA by comparing health experiences of individuals with OA and controls. It highlights directions for future research that can improve our understanding of the needs of individuals with OA and can help link individuals' health status to the broader framework of their lives.