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With increasing age many elderly people experience personal and social losses Physical health declines, there is a loss of vigour and an increased susceptibility to disease Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis in the elderly, is the greatest cause of disability and limitation of activity in older populations The purpose of this descriptive study was to investigate how elderly women cope with the physical impairment and pain associated with osteoarthritis and to examine the relationship between coping strategies and health status The sample consisted of 130 women over 75 years, living alone in one of five life care communities Three instruments were used to collect data The Ways of Coping Scale, The Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale and The Musculoskeletal Impairment Index Pearson product-moment correlations and stepwise multiple regression were used to analyse data The mean age of the sample was 82 2 years and over 40% had attained bachelor's degree or higher The most utilized coping strategy was self-control The study variables accounted for 49% of the variance in physical health and 20% in psychosocial health