Operation Change: A New Paradigm Addressing Behavior Change and Musculoskeletal Health Disparities

Lynne C Jones, Yashika Watkins, Duanny Alva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: In this study, we examined the implementation and efficacy of Operation Change, a community-based, culturally sensitive program to stimulate behavioral changes in activity level and improve musculoskeletal health in African-American (AA) and Hispanic/Latina (H/L) women with obesity and early-stage osteoarthritis. Methods: Sixty-two women (32 AA and 30 H/L), 40–75 years old, with nontraumatic knee pain and body mass index values > 30, participated in a 12-week program of presentations, motivational interviewing, goal setting, and physical activities. Assessments (at 0, 6, and 12 weeks) included a demographic questionnaire, physical assessment, timed 50-ft walking test, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC), Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36), 8-Item Physical Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8), and motivational interview assessment. Results: Walking time improved significantly for H/L women (P < 0.0001) but not AA women (P = 0.0759). Both groups had significant mean weight loss (P < 0.05) with high variability among individuals. WOMAC scores for both groups indicated decreased pain (P < 0.0001) and stiffness (P < 0.0001) and improved physical functioning (P < 0.0001) by 12 weeks. SF-36 results were comparable to those of the WOMAC. PHQ-8 results improved significantly for H/L women (P < 0.0001) but not AA women (P = 0.077). Participants scored the motivational interviewing component of the program favorably. Conclusions: Participation in Operation Change increased physical activity, resulting in improvements in pain and function scores. This supports a new paradigm for behavioral modification that helps AA and H/L women take an active role in living with osteoarthritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of racial and ethnic health disparities
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Apr 24 2018



  • Behavioral change program
  • Early-stage osteoarthritis
  • Knee pain
  • Obesity
  • Outcomes
  • Physical activity level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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