Objective: To evaluate the long-term effects of a spouse-assisted coping skills intervention in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knees, and to evaluate how pre- to posttreatment changes in marital adjustment and self-efficacy relate to long-term improvements in pain, psychological disability, physical disability, pain coping, and pain behavior.
Methods: A followup study was conducted with 88 OA patients who had been randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment conditions: 1) spouse-assisted coping skills training (spouse-assisted CST), 2) a conventional CST intervention with no spouse involvement, and 3) an arthritis education-spousal support (AE-SS) control condition. To evaluate long-term outcome, comprehensive measures of self-efficacy, marital adjustment, pain, psychological disability, physical disability, pain coping, and pain behavior were collected from these individuals at 6 and 12 months posttreatment.
Results: Data analysis revealed that, at 6-month followup, patients in the spouse-assisted CST condition scored higher on measures of coping and self-efficacy than those in the AE-SS control group. At 6-month followup, patients who received CST without spouse involvement showed a significantly higher frequency of coping attempts and reported higher levels of marital adjustment than those in the AE-SS control group. At 12-month followup, patients in the spouse-assisted CST condition had significantly higher overall self-efficacy than those in the AE-SS control condition. In addition, patients in both the spouse-assisted CST and CST only conditions tended to show improvements in physical disability at the 12-month followup. Individual differences in outcome were noted at the 12-month followup. Patients in the spouse-assisted CST condition who reported initial (pre- to posttreatment) increases in marital adjustment had lower levels of psychological disability, physical disability, and pain behavior at 12-month followup. However, for patients in the conventional CST and AE-SS control conditions, increases in marital adjustment occurring over the initial phase of treatment were related to increases in pain and decreases in scores on the Pain Control in Rational Thinking factor of the Coping Strategies Questionnaire. Finally, patients in the spouse-assisted CST condition who showed pre- to posttreatment increases in self-efficacy were more likely to show decreases in pain, psychological disability, and physical disability at 12-month followup.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that spouse-assisted CST can enhance self-efficacy and improve the coping abilities of OA patients in the long term. Individual differences in the long-term outcome of spouse-assisted CST were noted, with some patients (those showing increases in marital satisfaction and self-efficacy) showing much better outcomes than others.