Socio-demographic and psychosocial predictors of rheumatoid arthritis health outcome

Pamela Naidoo, Graham C Lindegger, Girish M Mody


Objectives. To investigate the psychosocial aspects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to determine the predictors of RA health outcome in a low socio-economic group of clinic-based adult RA patients.

Design. This was a cross-sectional study. Clinic-based adult RA patients were subjected to a series of self- administered questionnaires to assess their experience of the disease. Coping, social support, causal attribution, cognitive illness representation, pain and functional status were assessed. Joint status, which indicated the degree of severity of joint inflammation for each RA patient, was assessed by a rheumatologist.

Subjects. The sample consisted of 186 RA patients with a mean age of 49.51 years and a mean duration of RA of 10.80 years.Outcome measures. Health status measures defined by pain and functional status, and joint status.

Results. Psychological factors, especially coping, were more significant predictors of self-report of pain and functional status than socio-demographic factors. Both socio-demographic factors and psychological factors (especially coping) were found to be significant predictors of swollen and tender joint status.

Conclusion and recommendations. As a psychological factor, coping emerged as a consistent predictor of both self-report of pain and functional status, and swollen and tender joint status. It is recommended that to enhance the quality of life of RA patients and improve their health status, the impact of psychosocial factors such as the way in which patients cope with their disease status, must be considered. Further, it is recommended that health professionals collaborate not only in attempting to refine the theoretical conceptualisation of RA, but also in devising holistic and multidisciplinary care for individuals afflicted with the disease.

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Submitted: 08 August 2008
Published: 01 December 2004

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)