People with osteoarthritis who have supportive partners fare better

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spouse, partner, support, osteoarthritis, pain, function, arthritis digestThe dynamics of daily interactions with a spouse or partner appear to play an important role in improving physical functioning of people with arthritis, according to new findings published in Psychological Science.

The study included a total of 152 people with osteoarthritis, who were over 50 years old and married or living with a partner. Participants completed short surveys in the evening every day for 22 days.

The results showed that people with osteoarthritis who have partners who responded to their expressions of pain with empathic behaviors on a daily basis showed improved physical function six and 18 months later compared to people with less empathic partners.

“We found that osteoarthritis patients whose spouses were more empathically responsive in daily interactions fared better in terms of their physical function than patients whose spouses were less responsive,” says Stephanie Wilson, lead author. “Their performance on an objective test improved over time: they were better able to stand from a chair unassisted, maintained better balance, and could walk more quickly.

“Other research suggests that people who perform better on these tasks also are more likely to remain independent and to live longer. Thus, our findings have direct clinical implications for chronic pain patients.”

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