Research has shown that people with arthritis can improve their ability to cope with
arthritis pain with the help of patient education programs, which teach people things they
can do to help manage their disease. However, we do not know much about the effects of
arthritis patient education programs on minorities, such as urban African Americans.
We will gather participants for this project through a faith-based community network. The
project is made up of four studies that will provide information about culturally relevant
ways of reaching urban African Americans with arthritis and providing patient education that
addresses arthritis care needs of the African American community. This project will also
provide information on the effectiveness of an arthritis self-help course for urban African
Americans. We hope to better understand the differences among cultural groups and how these
differences should affect the design of culturally appropriate patient education.
Clinical studies have shown that arthritis patient education interventions are an effective
addition to medical treatment in improving patients' ability to cope with pain, thereby
reducing perceived symptom severity, improving patients' ability to help themselves, and
providing them with skills and strategies for dealing with limits on daily activities. We
know little, however, about generalizing the effects of such programs to cultural minority
groups, such as urban African Americans. We know even less about the longevity of any
benefits of patient education or about effective reinforcement and maintenance techniques.
To examine these issues, we will recruit participants for this project through a faith-based
community network to pursue the following aims:
1. Evaluate the impact of arthritis patient education on arthritis symptoms and pain
levels, functional status, self-care knowledge and behaviors, self-efficacy, emotional
status, and health care resource use through a randomized controlled trial (Study 1).
2. Test the impact of focused reinforcement of the concepts in the Arthritis Self-Help
Course (ASHC) over a 12-month period through a randomized controlled trial (Study 2).
3. Examine the detailed educational dynamics of the ASHC, identify aspects of the course
that are less effective with or relevant to African Americans, and identify modes of
communication and presentation used in the course that require adaptation for an
African American audience (Study 3).
4. Assess the personal and cultural belief systems underlying African Americans'
understanding of arthritis and their use of conventional and unconventional arthritis
treatments (Study 4).
These studies will provide valuable information regarding culturally relevant methods of
reaching urban African Americans with arthritis and providing patient education that
addresses arthritis care needs of the African American community. This study will also
clarify the longevity of educational benefits and the effectiveness of alternative methods
of educational reinforcement in this population. The exploratory studies of individual
beliefs and knowledge of arthritis and its treatment, and the formal evaluation of a patient
education program, will provide a better understanding of the ways in which cultural groups
differ and how these differences should influence the design and delivery of culturally
appropriate patient education.
- Urban African Americans with arthritis
- 18 years or older