Use of recommended osteoarthritis pain treatment by older adults


D.D. McDonald: e-mail:


Title. Use of recommended osteoarthritis pain treatment by older adults.

Aim.  This paper reports on a study conducted to describe what traditional and non-traditional treatments older adults with osteoarthritis use for pain management, their reported pain relief, and factors associated with use of recommended initial gold standard treatment (acetaminophen/paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and exercise and/or physical therapy) as designated by conventional western medicine.

Background.  Osteoarthritis is characterized by joint pain, stiffness and limited range of motion and has been designated an international health burden by the World Health Organization. Demographic and cultural factors have been shown to affect both traditional and non-traditional osteoarthritis treatment decisions.

Method.  A descriptive correlational design was used, with secondary analysis of data collected between July 2006 and July 2007 in two randomized controlled studies using the Brief Pain Inventory Short Form and testing older adults’ pain communication.

Results.  The frequency of use of gold standard treatment was 28·0% (n = 128). Both traditional and non-traditional treatments were used by 46·4% (n = 212) of the participants. Logistic regression revealed that those with higher education (odds ratio 1·56, CI 1·24–1·96, P = 0·001), and non-White race, regardless of educational level (odds ratio 2·02, CI 1·20–3·40, P = 0·008), were more likely to use gold standard treatment.

Conclusion.  Factors influencing older adults’ use of gold standard treatment for their osteoarthritis pain need to be identified so that greater numbers of older adults can be supported to use recommended treatment to obtain greater pain relief.