Background and objectives: Few studies have examined patterns of pain and coping among patients with osteoarthritis (OA). This pilot study used a daily diary approach to examine pain and coping strategy use among white and nonwhite veterans with OA.
Methods: Participants (23 white, 13 nonwhite; 89% male; mean age = 63 years) completed diaries of pain (10-cm visual analog scale) and coping (total, problem-focused, and emotion-focused) for 30 days. Analyses examined relationships of mean self-reported pain severity and variability with coping strategy use as well as racial differences in these associations.
Results: The mean pain level (4.46 [scale of 0-10], standard deviation [SD] = 2.12) and mean within-subject pain variance (1.94, SD = 1.79) were similar between white and nonwhite participants. With respect to pain variability, 2 distinct subgroups were observed, with approximately half of participants reporting high variability and half reporting low variability. The mean total coping score (on a scale of 0-7) was 2.62 (SD = 1.77), with problem-focused strategies being used more often than emotion-focused. There were no significant associations between coping (total, problem-focused, and emotion-focused) and mean pain severity, but the direction of these relationships differed according to race.
Conclusion: Results of this pilot study showed considerable between-subject variability in pain and coping strategy use as well as some racial differences. Medical treatment and self-management approaches may be improved if they can be tailored according to patients' pain patterns and preferred coping strategies.