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Pain experiences and self-management strategies among middle-aged and older adults with arthritis

Authors

  • Guilan Gong M MEd, RN,

    Teaching Assistant
    1. School of Nursing, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China
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  • Jie Li PhD, RN,

    Lecturer
    1. School of Nursing, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China
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  • Xiuyun Li B MEd,

    Chief Superintendent Nurse, Corresponding author
    1. Nursing Department, Tongji Hospital Affiliated to Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China
    • School of Nursing, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China
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  • Jing Mao MD, PhD

    Professor, Dean, Corresponding author
    • School of Nursing, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China
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Correspondence: Xiuyun Li and Jing Mao, Chief Superintendent and Professor, School of Nursing, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, China. Telephone: +86 027 83692635.

E-mails: xiuyunli@hotmail.com; jingmao_hl@yahoo.cn

Abstract

Aims and objectives

The purposes were (1) to explore pain experiences and the use and perceived effectiveness of pain self-management methods among middle-aged and older adults with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in mainland China and (2) to compare those with diagnoses of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Background

Prior research has suggested that pain is a major concern for people with arthritis. However, studies systematically investigating pain experiences and self-management status of arthritis patients are scarce in mainland China.

Design

Descriptive survey.

Methods

Participants (n = 197) aged 45 and over, diagnosed with either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, and experiencing persistent pain were administered three self-report questionnaires: the Demographic Data Questionnaire, the Brief Pain Inventory and the Pain Management Inventory.

Results

The mean of the overall pain intensity was 5·6 (SD = 1·3). The median of number of pain sites was 7·0 (QR = 7·0) and the overall pain interference was 6·0 (QR = 2·6). Most participants experienced moderate to severe pain and interference. The current methods used for managing pain were perceived as only moderately effective. The sample used a median of 4·0 (QR = 3·0) self-management methods. Most often used were prescribed medicine, massage, heat and activity pacing. Methods perceived as most helpful included prescribed medicine, over-the-counter medicine, hot baths and heat. Persons with rheumatoid arthritis had significantly more pain sites, higher pain intensity and greater number of pain management methods used compared to those with osteoarthritis.

Conclusions

Pain management is a significant problem in this population. The findings highlight the importance of helping the individual to identify and appropriately use a variety of self-management methods, selecting the appropriate method(s) at any one time.

Relevance to clinical practice

Healthcare providers are urged to develop appropriate interventions on pain management tailored to arthritis patients in mainland China.

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