Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Kathleen Masters

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Bonnie Harbaugh

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Norma Cuellar

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Yen To

Committee Member 4 Department


Committee Member 5

Janie Butts

Committee Member 5 Department



Over the past several decades, older adults with Osteoarthritis (OA) have increasingly used more natural products in an effort to manage chronic pain. The theoretical framework for this study was the Lazarus and Folkman transactional theory of stress and coping. This framework was chosen based on the belief that older adults with OA are taking natural products as an active problem solving coping strategy to manage the pain, disability, and alterations they experience in their health related quality life including functional status, physical symptoms, emotional health, and social functioning. Older adults also take prescription medications for Osteoarthritis and a variety of other medical conditions and may not report them to their health care provider, which puts them at a significant risk for drug interactions.

The sample of 204 participants diagnosed with OA resided in Southern Mississippi and had visited one of three rheumatology clinics or had participated in local community activities. The participants completed the questionnaire and returned it by mail. The questionnaire was a consolidation of demographic questions and questions related to the types of natural products and prescription medications taken, visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, the Pain Disability Index (PDI) and the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale 2 Short Form (AIMS2 - SF).

Data analysis revealed the majority of participants were females aged 61 to 80 who were White, Non-Hispanic, married and had a High School or GED level of education, and rated their health as being good. Forty-nine per cent of the participants reported taking natural products and prescription medications concurrently to relieve pain. Thirty-five per cent of the participants reported only taking natural products. Findings indicate participants with higher levels of pain, pain disability, and lower HRQOL are continuing to seek treatments to manage their chronic pain, pain disability, and HRQOL. The majority of the participants (65.7%) did not report use to health care providers underscoring the need for health care providers to question their patients about use of natural products and to educate them on potential adverse side effects with prescription medications.