Patient perspectives on improving osteoarthritis management in urban and rural communities
Journal of Pain Research
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© 2018 Ali et al. Introduction: Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis (OA), there are lifestyle modifications that can mitigate symptoms such as pain, and improve management of the disease. This information is not always translated to community-dwelling seniors. Individuals in rural areas often face additional challenges due to geographic isolation and decreased access to community services. Methods: We used qualitative research methodology (hermeneutic phenomenology) to better understand the lived experiences of urban and rural community-dwelling seniors diagnosed with OA. We explored their sources of information about OA, how they manage their OA pain, and how OA management could be improved in the community. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit 20 information-rich participants (11 urban, 9 rural) in Ontario, Canada. All participants were aged >65 and diagnosed with OA. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, audio recorded, and transcribed verbatim. NVivo 11 Pro qualitative software was used to code transcripts. Results: Thematic analysis revealed 9 key themes where 8 were common to urban and rural participants, and 1 was unique to rural participants. Most significant among the common themes was the description of the social network as a source of OA information, the trial-and-error approach used for OA management, and the individual contextualization of OA management. Our results suggest that there are several common experiences among urban- and rural-dwelling seniors living with OA, including the desire for support over time, but also a unique experience to rural-dwelling seniors, namely lack of access to local care. Conclusion: These findings can be used to improve translation of OA information in both urban and rural communities in Canada, highlighting that common strategies may be effective in different contexts for this disease.