Study of Arthritis in Your Community

Using a strictly biomedical model, arthritis pain results from inflammation or degeneration of the joints and surrounding soft tissues. Such a model cannot, however, explain a number of clinical observations in OA, such as why people with similar arthritis severity experience different levels of pain, and suggest that the pain experience in OA is influenced not only by biologic/physiologic factors, but also by psychological and social factors. This has promoted interest in examining the relationships between psychological and social factors and pain in osteoarthritis.

The Study of Arthritis in Your Community, which started in 1995, will continue to follow an established population cohort of older individuals with arthritis. The current five-year follow-up study will focus on the experiences of pain and fatigue in people living with osteoarthritis. More than 1000 individuals continue to participate in this study.

This study aims to evaluate the relationships between osteoarthritis pain and fatigue and mood and understand how the symptoms of osteoarthritis impact those living with OA physically, psychologically and socially. We are also interested in e valuating the prevalence of depressed or anxious mood and diagnosed depression in individuals with OA, including whether or not differences exist by age, gender or socioeconomic status. We will also identify the proportion of people with moderate to severe arthritis pain, with an associated mental health disorder who are receiving health care for arthritis pain and/or associated mental health disorders.

Focus Groups

During 2004, we met with many of the members of our existing cohort to speak with them about their experiences related to osteoarthritis (OA) pain and fatigue. We held 14 discussion groups in the communities of Woodstock (Oxford County) and East York (Toronto) with men and women, aged 64+ years with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis. From speaking with these individuals, we gained insight into what pain and fatigue feel like to the individual living with arthritis. We also heard about factors that affect these symptoms and changes that individuals make in order to cope with pain and fatigue. Some individuals also shared with us the impact arthritis and its symptoms have had on their lives, including their relationships with others, activities and changes in mood and sleep. The findings of these focus groups helped in the development and design of a new questionnaire for our telephone interviews.

This data was also used to evaluate the ability of existing pain measures to capture the experience of OA pain.

Cohort Study

We will continue to interview participants in the Study of Arthritis in Your Community every six months. The telephone interviews ask participants about their arthritis pain and disability, fatigue and sleep habits, mood, family support, coping strategies and other factors. We are also collecting information on the use of established treatments and therapies for OA such as medication use and exercise. Greater understanding of the inter-relationships among these factors will enable the development of new treatments, targeted to individuals in the context of their families and the community.

Read about results from previous phases of the Study of Arthritis in Your Community:

Last modified: June 13, 2008