The study investigated factors that, together with a hand or hip/knee osteoarthritis (OA), could contribute to functional decline over a year in elderly individuals.

The data of 1,886 individuals between the ages of 65‐85 in a prospective, observational population‐based study with 12‐18 month follow‐up in the context of the European Project on OSteoArthritis were analyzed. The outcome measures were self‐reported hand and hip/knee functional decline evaluated using a Minimal Clinically Important Difference of 4 on the AUStralian/CANadian hand OA Index and 2 on the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities hip/knee OA physical function subscales, both normalized to 0‐100. Using regression models adjusted for sex, age, country, and education level, the baseline factors considered were: clinical hand or hip/knee OA, pain, analgesic/anti‐inflammatory medications, comorbidities, social isolation, income, walking time, grip strength, physical activity time, and medical/social care.

After a year, 453 participants were identified as having “worse” hand functionality and 1,389 as “not worse.” Hand OA, anxiety, walking time, and grip strength were risk factors for functional hand decline; the pain was a confounder of the effect of hand OA.

Analgesic/anti‐inflammatory medications mediated the combined effect of hip/knee OA+pain on functional decline in the 554 individuals classified as having “worse” hip/knee functionality and the 1,291 “not worse” persons. Peripheral artery disease, obesity, and cognitive impairment were other baseline risk factors.

Study findings showed that OA affects the hand and hip/knee functional decline with emotional status, chronic physical and cognitive conditions.