A Pilot Study to Examine the Relationship between Pain and Depression in Osteoarthritis

Arthritis disability results in chronic pain, reduced quality of life and loss of independence in those affected and thus is a significant burden to Canadians and to the health care system. Studies suggest that OA pain and disability are found together with depressed mood and/or anxiety more frequently than would be explained by chance. Studies have found that depressed mood is also associated with lower social support, even when adjusting for pain severity. Better coping in OA has been found to be associated with reduced pain and use of health services as well as fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. Studies performed to date in OA suggest a relationship between OA pain and depressed or anxious mood that is mediated by factors such as self-efficacy and coping strategies, and modified by social support, age and gender. How these factors interact to affect long-term outcomes in OA is unknown.

While epidemiologic studies have identified etiologic risk factors for development of OA, predictors of worse pain or disability are largely unknown. The objectives of this protocol include determining the prevalence and severity of and correlation between depressive symptoms, pain and fatigue in a population cohort aged 62 years and older with disabling hip/knee arthritis.

Using data collected in the Study of Arthritis in Your Community, we were able to take the first steps in determining the prevalence and severity of depressive symptoms among people living with disabling hip/knee arthritis. Among older adults with OA in this study, the prevalence of depressive symptoms is high. Of particular interest, depressive symptoms appear to be higher among individuals with greater OA pain and disability and among those who are trying to cope but perceive that their coping efforts are unsuccessful. These results suggest that strategies to improve coping efforts may assist OA sufferers who experience depressive symptoms.

  • Sale JEM, Hawker GA, Gignac M, Badley EM. Are depressive symptoms associated with pain after taking into consideration demographics, disability, and contextual variables in older adults with osteoarthritis? Arthritis Rheum 2005; 52 (Suppl 9): S661.
  • Sale JEM, Hawker GA, Gignac M, Badley EM. The factors associated with depressive symptoms in older adults with osteoarthritis? Poster presentation at the CAN Annual Scientific Conference, October 29-31, 2005.