Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Herr, Keela A.

Second Advisor

Tripp-Reimer, Toni

First Committee Member

Rakel, Barbara

Second Committee Member

Clark, Mary

Third Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy


Introduction: Chronic joint (CJ) pain is the foremost osteoarthritis (OA) symptom that affects older African Americans’ (AAs) functional ability. Every effort should be made to reduce the development of high-impact chronic pain. One way to effectively do this is for older AAs to consistently engage in self-management utilizing the recommended OA treatments. Recommended behaviors include land-based exercise, water-based exercise, strength (muscle and endurance) training and stretching, self-management education, analgesic medications, thermal (warm/cool) modalities, and use of assistive and/or orthotic devices. However, evidence suggests these core behaviors of chronic pain self-management are not optimally utilized in older AAs.

Methods: A convergent, parallel mixed-methods study explored patterns, preferences, and predictors of stage of engagement (pre-contemplation, preparation, or action) in recommended OA and CJ self-management behaviors. One hundred ten AAs aged 50 and older from communities in north Louisiana completed quantitative surveys, and a subset of 18 participated in audio-recorded qualitative interviews. Using SPSS, multinomial and binomial regression were used to build predictive models to determine which contextual and cognitive factors predict stage of engagement in each recommended and complementary OA self-management behaviors. A qualitative descriptive approach underscored a conventional content analysis of qualitative data.

Results: Older AAs were “dealin’ with it [pain]” in a variety of ways, and their experience of having OA and CJ pain was based on their ability and willingness to bear the pain, understand the nature of OA pain, and experience life with daily pain. These dimensions of dealin’ with pain acted as a catalyst for engagement in complementary and recommended behaviors. In addition, participants’ and providers’ cultural receptivity may limit or enable engagement in certain recommended evidence-based OA behaviors. Specifically, each recommended OA self-management behavior was associated with different predictors of engagement. Confidence to manage pain was a predictor for land-based exercise, while there were no factors associated with water-based exercise. The most reasonable explanation for this finding of lack of participation in water-based exercise is likely due to inability to swim and lack of access to a personal or community pool. Engagement in strength training was significantly associated with confidence, knowledge of strength training recommendation, motivation, pain interference, and spirituality. For self-management education, only knowledge of self-management education recommendation was a predictor. Most AA older adults were unaware that this was recommended or didn’t have access to a self-management program; subsequently the majority had never participated in such but were in the preparation stage. Predictors for medication use included confidence, knowledge, and pain interference. Almost all AAs were using either over-the-counter or prescribed medications. Use of thermal modalities was predicted by pain interference. Lastly, using assistive and/or orthotic devices was significantly associated with employment status, OA pain severity, pain interference, and perceived social support. Assistive and/or orthotic device use was evenly split between users and non-users. Pain interference emerged as the most salient factor predicting stage of engagement in any of the recommended behaviors. Depending on the specific behaviors, pain interference prevented or motivated engagement.

Conclusion: OA and CJ pain is a significant symptom in older AAs. This study’s mixed method approach uncovered what older AAs do to manage pain. More specifically, these results illuminate the daily patterns and preferences for self-management. We identified specific barriers and motivators that influence engagement in OA self-management behaviors, and determined the most relevant predictors for each stage of engagement. In addition, we were able to develop a model of OA and CJ pain self-management based on the predictors.


African American, behaviors, chronic joint pain, older adult, osteoarthritis, self-management


xiv, 321 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 235-290).


Copyright © 2017 Staja Quinae Booker

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