Associations Between Psychological Stress and Hand Pain Among Rural and Urban Adults: Findings From the KoGES Community Cohort Study

Sunmi Song, Jennifer E. Graham-Engeland, Junesun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite known health disparities in chronic pain conditions between rural and urban adults, few studies have examined whether longitudinal associations between psychological stress and hand pain differ. Utilizing community-based cohort data, this study examined whether rural and urban adults differed in the extent to which psychological distress was associated with hand osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms and later functional limitations related to hand pain. Community-dwelling adults (mean age = 51.97, 52.3% women) in a rural (n = 2,971) and urban area (n = 2,782) provided demographic data at baseline and, at a 4-year follow-up, responded to questionnaires about psychological distress and clinical symptoms of hand OA. Levels of functional limitations in hands were assessed at an 8-year follow-up. Ordinal logistic and linear regression were conducted to examine the effects of psychological distress on hand OA symptoms and functional limitations, and whether associations between psychological distress and these pain outcomes were moderated by residential area. The results showed that psychological distress was associated with a higher risk for hand OA symptoms and functional limitations, even after adjusting for demographic and health covariates. There was significant moderation by residential area, such that the association between psychological distress and hand OA was significant only among rural adults and the association with functional limitations was stronger in rural adults than urban adults. Findings suggest greater vulnerability to hand arthritis and hand-related functional limitations among rural adults and the potential for tailored intervention programs to help resolve health disparities among rural communities. Perspective: This study compares the association between psychological distress and hand pain outcomes between rural and urban adults using community-based cohort data and suggests that rural adults are more vulnerable to experiencing negative effects of psychological distress on concurrent hand OA symptoms and longitudinal functional limitations in hands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-375
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pain
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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