Problem: Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 1.3 million people in the United States. A chronic disease with a variable course leaves affected individuals in a state of uncertainty. Many individuals experience joint and muscle pain, a major symptom of the disease. Current literature provides varying information of gender perceptions and management of joint and muscle pain in rheumatic diseases. Purpose: The purpose of this secondary analysis was to explore (1) gender perception of seriousness of joint and muscle pain in rheumatoid arthritis, (2) gender perception of joint and muscle pain interference with daily life, (3) gender perception of controllability of joint and muscle pain, (4) gender perception of joint and muscle pain cause, (5) gender perception of joint and muscle pain management, (6) gender perception of the effectiveness of joint and muscle pain management strategies, and (7) demographic variables influencing differences between men and women's symptom representation of pain. Design: Secondary analysis utilizing a cross-sectional design to examine participants representations of joint and muscle pain. Sample: Two hundred, forty participants experiencing rheumatic illness participated in the primary study. One hundred, twenty-one subjects were included in the secondary analysis if participants reported the presence of joint and/or muscle pain on at least one day in the first week of data collection. Measures: Scales utilized included a symptom diary and a medical history and demographic form. Analysis: Means, medians, mode, ranges, standard deviation, t-tests and chi-squared tests were utilized in the secondary analysis. Results: No statistically significant relationships between gender and perception of rheumatic disease were discovered. Conclusions: Women and men experience joint and muscle pain due to rheumatic disease similarly. Implications: Chronic disease perception and management can vary among individuals. Although the current research does not find significant differences between genders with respect to symptom perception and management, health care providers should assess a patient's symptom representation and then develop individualized patient plans of care as many factors can influence overall disease management.


Donna J. Brauer

Committee Member

Sandra Eggenberger

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


School of Nursing


Allied Health and Nursing

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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