The functional and psychological impact of hand osteoarthritis

Chronic Illn. 2010 Jun;6(2):101-10. doi: 10.1177/1742395309345614. Epub 2010 May 5.


Objectives: Studies suggest that hand osteoarthritis (OA) can result in impairment of hand function and participation restriction. The objective of the current study was to investigate the impact of functional impairments caused by hand OA on everyday life.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with primary care (n = 15; mean age 62.4 years; M : F ratio 1 : 4) and secondary care (n = 14; mean age 63.6 years; M : F ratio 1 : 13) patients aged 50 years and over were conducted. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and the constant comparison method.

Results: Individuals reported impact across day-to-day activities. Perceptions of dependence and independence were important. They reported embarrassment due to the appearance of their hands and their inability to carry out 'normal' tasks. Work status had been affected for two of the participants. Negative emotional responses were captured. Participants utilized cognitive, behavioural and avoidance forms of coping.

Conclusion: We have captured the impact of functional impairment on everyday life and related psychological effects. With a retirement age increasing, the study raises the potential issue of future employment restriction for those with hand OA. Individuals utilising 'temporal' comparison as a form of coping may be less well adjusted to their hand problem, which could have implications for future management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Affect
  • Cognition
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hand / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology*
  • Osteoarthritis / psychology*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires