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The experience of living with knee osteoarthritis: exploring illness and treatment beliefs through thematic analysis

Pouli, Nektaria; das Nair, Roshan; Lincoln, Nadina; Walsh, David A.


Nektaria Pouli

Professor of Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology

Nadina Lincoln

David A. Walsh


Purpose: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a major cause of disability in older adults. However, there is limited research on the daily experience of living with knee OA. We aimed to offer insight into the beliefs of patients with knee OA about their illness and treatment.

Method: Twenty-four semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 women and 7 men with physician-diagnosed knee OA, aged between 48 and 84 years (mean 1/4 62, SD 1/4 7). The audio-taped interviews lasted from 30 min to 1 h, and were transcribed verbatim. The data were subjected to thematic analysis. The transcripts were independently coded by two researchers to increase reliability of coding.

Results: Six themes were developed and two of these are examined in further detail: (i) Illness representation and (ii) Beliefs about the medical and surgical control of pain. Illness representation comprised beliefs about people’s understanding of OA and their pain experience, as well as expectations about the course of illness. The second theme presented experiences of limited pain relief and concerns about the use of drugs and surgery.

Conclusion: Exploring illness representations and beliefs about medical and surgical control of pain may provide the basis for initiating psychological interventions for people with knee OA.


Pouli, N., das Nair, R., Lincoln, N., & Walsh, D. A. (2013). The experience of living with knee osteoarthritis: exploring illness and treatment beliefs through thematic analysis. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(7),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 10, 2013
Publication Date Jun 21, 2013
Deposit Date Jun 24, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 24, 2016
Journal Disability and Rehabilitation
Print ISSN 0963-8288
Electronic ISSN 1464-5165
Publisher Taylor & Francis Open
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 7
Keywords Knee, Osteoarthritis, Pain
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information The Version of
Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Disability and Rehabilitation 2014


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