Testing a positive psychological intervention for osteoarthritis

Leslie R.M. Hausmann, Ada Youk, C. Kent Kwoh, Said A. Ibrahim, Michael J. Hannon, Debra K. Weiner, Rollin M. Gallagher, Acacia Parks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Objective. Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability for which there is no cure. Psychosocialoriented treatments are underexplored. We developed and tested an intervention to build positive psychological skills (e.g., gratitude) to reduce osteoarthritis symptom severity, including pain and functioning, and to improve psychosocial wellbeing in patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis. Design. Two-arm randomized design with sixmonth follow-up. Setting. An academic Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Subjects. Patients aged 50 years or older with knee or hip osteoarthritis and pain ratings of 4 or higher. Methods. Patients (N=42) were randomized to a sixweek program containing positive skill-building activities or neutral control activities tailored to the patient population. Adherence was assessed by telephone each week. We assessed osteoarthritis symptom severity (WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index) and measures of well-being (positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction) at baseline and by telephone one, three, and six months after the program ended. We used linear mixed models to examine changes over time. Results. The majority (64%) of patients completed more than 80% of their weekly activities. Patients in the positive (vs neutral) program reported significantly more improvement over time in osteoarthritis symptom severity (P=0.02, Cohen's d=0.86), negative affect (P=0.03, Cohen's d=0.50), and life satisfaction (P=0.02, Cohen's d=0.36). Conclusions. The study successfully engaged patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis in a six-week intervention to build positive psychological skills. Improving osteoarthritis symptom severity and measures of psychosocial well-being, the intervention shows promise as a tool for chronic pain management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1908-1920
Number of pages13
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Chronic pain
  • Mind-Body therapies
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Psychology
  • Psychosocial factors
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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