Factors associated with disability among middle-aged and older African American women with osteoarthritis

Janiece L. Walker, Ph.D., R.N.; Tracie C. Harrison, Ph.D., F.N.P., F.A.A.N.; Adama Brown, Ph.D.; Roland J. Thorpe Jr., Ph.D.; Sarah L. Szanton, Ph.D., A.N.P., F.A.A.N.

Disability and Health Journal, Volume 9, Issue 3


Middle-aged and older African American women experience disproportionate rates of functional limitations and disability from osteoarthritis (OA) compared to other racial ethnic groups; however, little is known about what factors contribute to this disparity within African American women.


To examine factors associated with physical function and disability among African American women ages 50–80 with OA using the disablement process model.


This descriptive study included 120 African American women with OA from the Southwestern region of the United States. Regression techniques were used to model the correlates of physical function and disability and to test a mediation model.


BMI and pain severity were significantly related to functional limitations. Depressive symptoms mediated the relationship between racial discrimination and disability.


Biological, intra-individual, and extra-individual factors are related to disablement outcomes in this sample of African American women, which is consistent with theory suggesting the need for treatment coupled with environmental modifications. This study can inform the development of future bio-behavioral interventions.