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The Role of Nurses in the

Management of Joint Pain in

Woman and Black and Hispanic/

Latino Women


To decrease musculoskeletal health disparities

among women and racial/ethnic minorities by

raising awareness

of their impact on chronic disease management and quality of life.

By promoting the importance of early intervention

, MIL seeks to slow musculoskeletal

disease progression, reduce disability and encourage physical activity and daily movement to

improve the overall health of the nation.


One in five Americans suffer from doctor-diagnosed arthritis, but among three segments of the

population, the impact is worse. Women, African Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos have more

severe arthritis and functional limitations. Compared to their Caucasian counterparts, African

American and Hispanic/Latina women also have much higher levels of obesity. The role of the

nurse in managing a patient’s osteoarthritis (OA) progression has been evolving and can include

evaluation, education of the patient, risk management for medications and other management

activities, care coordination among the patient and healthcare professionals, and compliance

strategies including proper medication use, weight reduction, and exercise. Addressing obesity

among various racial/ethnic populations requires an understanding not only of the biological

causes of obesity, but also of the culture, values, beliefs, resources, and environments that

influence eating and physical activity behaviors and choices. This educational activity provides

an overview of gender and racial/ethnic musculoskeletal disparities, the relationship between

obesity, OA, and other comorbidities, and the potential impact of the AMA recognition of obesity

as a disease. Also discussed are cultural and health literacy considerations of the patients most

at risk for disability from OA – obese African American and Hispanic women. It concludes with

a discussion of the challenges facing healthcare providers in providing culturally competent

care that promotes healthy habits, the need to confront conscious and unconscious bias, and

communication skills and techniques that enhance shared decision-making with patients in order

to reduce and/or eliminate disparities in care by communicating more effectively with obese

minority women with OA.