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J Clin Nurs. 2009 Aug;18(15):2206-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02759.x.

Disability and pain management methods of Taiwanese arthritic older patients.

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  • 1Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, Fu-Jen Catholic University, 510Chung Cheng Rd, Hsin Chang, Taipei Hsien 24205, Taiwan.



This study aims to investigate the prevalence of disability, factors influencing disability and pain self-management techniques employed by older arthritis patients in Taiwan.


Arthritis is the most common chronic disease in older people. It may result in pain, stiffness and joint deformity, which ultimately lead to disability. Understanding the factors influencing disability is needed to help arthritis sufferers to achieve optimal health status.


A cross-sectional design was employed for this study.


One hundred and fifty-one older persons diagnosed with either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis were interviewed in the rheumatology clinics located in two medical centres in northern Taiwan. Six questionnaires were administered: Barthel Index, Instrumental Activity of Daily Living, Rapid Assessment of Disease Activity in Rheumatology, the Chinese version of Pain Management Inventory, Geriatric Depression Scale and Life Satisfaction Index.


Disability was found in 11% of Taiwanese individuals diagnosed with either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Those in disability reported more severe disease activity, pain, depression and lower life satisfaction. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that 31-46% of the total variance of disability could be explained by age, gender, marriage, joint pain score, diagnosis, disease activity, depression and pain management. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis had significantly higher levels of disability, disease activity during the preceding six months, more depression and less life satisfaction than patients with osteoarthritis.


Higher disability was explained by older age, female, unmarried, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, more joint pain, more disease severity, more depression and more use of pain management strategies in arthritis patients.


Nurses are urged to recognise the individual differences among the factors that are thought to contribute most to disability. An individualised, multidimensional and comprehensive treatment plan with informational support is essential to maximise pain management skills of arthritic older people to achieve improvement in pain, level of disability and mental health.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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