Pain, Racial Discrimination, and Depressive Symptoms among African American Women

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Abstract

African American women with osteoarthritis (OA) are at high risk of experiencing pain. They report more pain than non-Hispanic White women and men of other racial/ethnic groups. This pain can limit independence and diminish their quality of life. Despite the detrimental effects that pain can have on older African American women with OA, there is a dearth of literature examining factors beyond the OA pathology that are associated with pain outcomes within this population. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between racial discrimination and depressive symptoms with pain intensity in African American women with OA. The sample comprised of 120 African American women, aged 50-80 years, with OA, from Texas and New Mexico. The women completed survey booklets to answer study questionnaires. We used multiple linear regression to test associations between racial discrimination, depressive symptoms, and pain intensity. We tested whether depressive symptoms mediated the relationship between racial discrimination and pain intensity by using bootstrapping. Results indicated that racial discrimination was significantly associated with pain intensity and that this relationship was mediated by depressive symptoms, even after controlling for body mass index, years of education, and length of time with OA. Both depressive symptoms and racial discrimination may be modifiable. If these modifiable factors are addressed in this population, there may be decreased pain in middle-aged and older African American women.

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