Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

Is Social Support Associated With Upper Extremity Disability?

Sjoerd P. F. T. Nota MD, Silke A. Spit MD, Thijs C. H. Oosterhoff BSc, Michiel G. J. S. Hageman MD, David C. Ring MD, PhD, Ana-Maria Vranceanu PhD

Abstract

Background

Pain intensity and disability correlate with psychosocial factors such as depression and pain interference (the degree to which pain interferes with activities of daily living) as much or more than pathophysiology in upper extremity illness. However, other factors like emotional support (perception of being cared for and valued as a person), instrumental support (perception of availability of tangible assistance when needed), positive psychosocial impact (perception and focus on the positive side of a difficult situation, sometimes characterized as posttraumatic growth, benefit-finding, or meaning making), also might be associated with disability in patients with upper extremity orthopaedic illness. This is the first published study, to our knowledge, addressing the potential association of emotional support, instrumental support, and positive psychosocial illness impact with disability in patients with upper extremity illness.

Questions/Purposes

We asked: (1) Is there a correlation between the QuickDASH and the Patient-reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) emotional support Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT)? (2) Is there a correlation between the QuickDASH and PROMISinstrumental support CAT? (3) Is there a correlation between the QuickDASH and PROMISpositive psychosocial illness impact CAT? (4) Among the PROMISmeasures of depression, emotional support, instrumental support, positive illness impact, and pain interference, which accounts for the most variance in QuickDASH scores?

Methods

One hundred ninety-three patients with upper extremity illness (55% women; average age, 51 ± 18 years) of 213 approached (91% recruitment rate) completed the QuickDASH, and five different PROMISCATs: pain interference (the degree to which pain interferes with accomplishing one’s goals), depression, emotional support, psychosocial illness impact, and instrumental support. We recruited patients from the practice of three surgeons in hand service of the department of orthopaedic surgery at a major urban university hospital.

Results

Pearson Product Moment Correlations showed that emotional support (r = −0.18; p = 0.014) and instrumental support (r = −0.19; p = 0.008) were weakly and inversely associated with the QuickDASH), while positive psychosocial illness impact was moderately and inversely associated with the QuickDASH (r = −0.36; p < 0.001). In multivariable analyses, pain interference, but not the social support measures, was the only psychosocial factor associated with the QuickDASH and alone explained 66% of variance.

Conclusions

Emotional support, instrumental support and positive psychosocial illness impact are all individually associated with disability to a small degree, but pain interference (the degree to which pain interferes with accomplishing one’s goals) has the strongest influence on magnitude of disability.

Level of Evidence

Level 1, prognostic study.

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