BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2018 19:337

Pain coping skills training for African Americans with osteoarthritis study: baseline participant characteristics and comparison to prior studies

Kelli D. Allen, Liubov Arbeeva, Crystal W. Cené, Cynthia J. Coffman, Kimberlea F. Grimm, Erin Haley, Francis J. Keefe, Caroline T. Nagle, Eugene Z. Oddone, Tamara J. Somers, Yashika Watkins and Lisa C. Campbell
Ankle Elbow Hip Knee Shoulder


The Pain Coping Skills Training for African Americans with OsteoaRTthritis (STAART) trial is examining the effectiveness of a culturally enhanced pain coping skills training (CST) program for African Americans with osteoarthritis (OA). This disparities-focused trial aimed to reach a population with greater symptom severity and risk factors for poor pain-related outcomes than previous studies. This paper compares characteristics of STAART participants with prior studies of CST or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-informed training in pain coping strategies for OA.


A literature search identified 10 prior trials of pain CST or CBT-informed pain coping training among individuals with OA. We descriptively compared characteristics of STAART participants with other studies, in 3 domains of the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities’ Research Framework: Sociocultural Environment (e.g., age, education, marital status), Biological Vulnerability and Mechanisms (e.g, pain and function, body mass index), and Health Behaviors and Coping (e.g., pain catastrophizing). Means and standard deviations (SDs) or proportions were calculated for STAART participants and extracted from published manuscripts for comparator studies.


The mean age of STAART participants, 59 years (SD = 10.3), was lower than 9 of 10 comparator studies; the proportion of individuals with some education beyond high school, 75%, was comparable to comparator studies (61–86%); and the proportion of individuals who are married or living with a partner, 42%, was lower than comparator studies (62–66%). Comparator studies had less than about 1/3 African American participants. Mean scores on the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain and function scales were higher (worse) for STAART participants than for other studies, and mean body mass index of STAART participants, 35.2 kg/m2 (SD = 8.2), was higher than all other studies (30–34 kg/m2). STAART participants’ mean score on the Pain Catastrophizing scale, 19.8 (SD = 12.3), was higher (worse) than other studies reporting this measure (7–17).


Compared with prior studies with predominantly white samples, STAART participants have worse pain and function and more risk factors for negative pain-related outcomes across several domains. Given STAART participants’ high mean pain catastrophizing scores, this sample may particularly benefit from the CST intervention approach.

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