Daily Temporal Self-Care Responses to Osteoarthritis Symptoms by Older African Americans and Whites

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis and is among the most prevalent chronic conditions in the USA. Because there is no known cure for OA, treatment is directed towards the alleviation of pain, improving function, and limiting disability. The major burden of care falls on the individual, who tailors personal systems of care to alleviate troublesome symptoms. To date, little has been known about the temporal variations in self-care that older patients with OA develop, nor has it been known to what extent self-care patterns vary with ethnicity and disease severity. This patient-centered descriptive study was designed to demonstrate the self-care strategies used by older African Americans and whites to alleviate the symptoms of OA on a typical day and during specific segments of a typical day over the past 30 days. A sample of 551 older adults participated in in-depth interviews, and the authors clustered their responses into six categories. Findings showed that the frequency of particular behaviors varied by time of day, disease severity, and race. Overall, patterns of self-care behaviors were similar between African Americans and whites, but African Americans used them in different proportions than whites. This study contributes to our knowledge of the dynamic and changing nature of self-care actions even within a single day. By defining how self-care is used in one illness by two different ethnic groups, we may be able to design appropriate educational programs that are more culturally specific to better meet the needs of patients with OA.

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