Because osteoarthritis (OA) is a highly prevalent public health problem, even small
improvements in health and well-being among people with OA (PWOA) can have a substantial impact.
Physical activity is central to managing OA, but most PWOA are insufficiently active so they do not benefit from
it. This proposal targets insufficiently active PWOA, with the goal of developing a novel intervention approach
to help them make small but sustained increases in lifestyle physical activity (LPA). Partner support (e.g., from
a spouse) has the potential to be a particularly powerful resource for achieving this goal; social support is one
of the most reliable psychosocial predictors of physical activity in PWOA and partners are ideally situated to
assist with and encourage lifestyle change. Yet, evidence shows partner support can hinder instead of promote
behavior change. Current understanding of partner support processes is insufficient to guide development of
partner support or couples interventions that are reliably effective. Our social support effectiveness (SSE)
framework can help elucidate these processes. It specifies features of partner support that maximize its
potential to promote LPA among insufficiently active PWOA and suggests that these beneficial features of
partner support are most likely to be present when both members of a couple have adequate support-related
skills. Further, evidence shows that the most critical support-related skills involve emotion regulation – the
ability to understand one's own and another's emotions and to respond adaptively to discordance.
We propose a 2- phase line of research. The Foundational Phase is a dyadic longitudinal study of 167
couples from the Johnston County OA Project. It will identify interrelations among partner support processes,
PWOA and partner emotion regulation skills, and pathways through which these factors influence initiation and
maintenance of LPA among insufficiently active PWOA over the course of a year (Aims 1-3). The Translational
Phase is a series of three studies to evaluate potential to translate this new knowledge into a novel training
program that improves couples' emotion regulation skills and their ability to apply them to receiving and
providing effective partner support for LPA (Aim 4). This proposal benefits from a well- established resource for
recruiting our population, an expert team with established collaborations, and a strong theoretical basis. It
targets a significant public health problem and promises to enhance the effectiveness of LPA interventions for
insufficiently active PWO by leveraging partners as an effective resource to support their lifestyle change.
Effective start/end date7/19/136/30/18


  • NIH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD)


National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (U.S.)
Life Style
Social Support
Public Health
Peptide Initiation Factors
Longitudinal Studies