Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is one the most problematic sources of persistent musculoskeletal pain, impaired function and mobility, and reduced quality of life in older adults. Although these are common outcomes associated with OA, they are disproportionately worse in older African Americans. These threats to healthy aging demand further investigation into the most significant driver of OA pain and disability, which is movement. The experience of pain due to movement, known as movement-evoked pain (MEP), often prohibits full participation in daily living activities and self-management actions such as physical activity/exercise. MEP is consequently a substantial contributor to high-impact chronic pain and disability in people with OA; yet, our understanding of the mechanisms contributing to MEP and its management in older African Americans is severely limited. Therefore, the overall goals for this two-phased Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) is to fill this knowledge gap by (1) characterizing the biopsychosocial-behavioral mechanisms of MEP and function and (2) develop a mechanism-based self-management intervention (Pain Relief for OsteoArthritis using Culturally-Tailored InterVentions for Black Elders [PROACTIVE]). This intervention will address the most pivotal and culturally-relevant predictors of MEP and impaired function in older African Americans. Our methods represent a new and substantive departure from current static pain assessments in chronic musculoskeletal disorders by measuring pain with movement. This K23 proposes training and research activities that will launch a program of research which advances the science of pain and disability in African American older adults. To this end, I have assembled an interdisciplinary team of senior scientists representing nursing, psychology/pain science, aging, and epidemiology/community engagement who will provide mentorship to help me achieve proposed training goals and facilitate my transition to an independent research career. Primary training goals essential to my research program include: (1) advance understanding of biopsychosocial and behavioral- environmental mechanisms of OA pain, (2) develop a comprehensive knowledge base in the application of community-engaged participatory research within experimental designs, and (3) enhance translational research skills to function as an independent investigator capable of conducting rigorous clinical trials testing the effectiveness of non-pharmacological, behavioral chronic pain self-management interventions within a cultured community (e.g., southern African Americans). Phase 2 of the K23 will apply community-based participatory mixed-methods to collaboratively create the PROACTIVE intervention. The University of Florida and University of Connecticut are strong incubators for pain research and provide ideal environments to extend the PI?s prior work and forge a path towards understanding multiple biopsychosocial and behavioral mechanisms uniquely involved in the intra-ethnic experience of chronic pain, which are key to the discovery of better therapeutic interventions and self-management behaviors.

Public Health Relevance

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is the leading source of movement-evoked pain (MEP) and physical function disability in older adults globally; however, the mechanisms driving MEP and severe functional limitations in older African Americans are unknown but of critical importance. The patterning of disparate health outcomes in African American older populations necessitates interventions that will reduce the economic, functional, and psychological burden associated with high-impact chronic OA pain and disability. Thus, the proposed work will elucidate the biopsychosocial-behavioral mechanisms associated MEP and function in a sample of older African Americans, which will inform the development of a mechanism-based, culturally-tailored self-management intervention to attenuate MEP and functional impairment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Special Grants Review Committee (AMS)
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Zheng, Xincheng
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University of Florida
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Schools of Nursing
United States
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