Experiencing Painful Osteoarthritis: What Have We Learned From Listening?

Gillian A Hawker


Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2009;21(5):507-512. 

In This Article

Sex Differences in the Osteoarthritis Pain Experience

The influence of psychological factors and social factors on the pain experience in osteoarthritis is discussed in detail in the review by Keefe (pp.501–506) in this edition of Current Opinion in Rheumatology. The focus group studies summarized above provide further support for the influence of these factors. Using a novel approach called comparative keyword analysis, which examines the words people use to describe their experiences, Gooberman-Hill et al.[18•] examined sex differences in the hip/knee osteoarthritis pain experience. Although both women and men talked about the support they received from their partners, women were more likely to emphasize the importance of this support. Women were also more likely to provide explanations and justification for their osteoarthritis pain concerns, whereas men provided a more business-like, factual account of the problems they encountered. In their focus group study, Hawker et al.[15••] found that men tended to use less 'intense' terms to describe their osteoarthritis pain than did women. These different communication styles may prompt different responses from healthcare providers about patients' osteoarthritis pain, potentially resulting in disparities in care,[19] and warrant future study.


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