Psychological stress as a predictor of psychological adjustment and health status in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Ruth Curtis, Annmarie Groarke, Robert Coughlan, Amina Gsel
Patient Education and Counseling 2005, 59 (2): 192-8
This study examined the extent to which perceived stress, social support, coping and clinical disease indicators predict physical, psychological and social adjustment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Participants were 59 women recruited at an outpatient clinic at University College Hospital, Galway. A range of psychological measures was administered and disease status was assessed by physician ratings of joint involvement and blood assays of inflammatory indices. Findings from correlational and hierarchical regression analyses revealed a number of statistically significant relationships (p<.01). Perceived stress was a better predictor than disease severity of positive and negative emotionality. Coping explained variability on positive and negative affect. Social support was linked to level of social activity. Results demonstrated that disease status predicted illness related functioning but did not predict emotional or social adjustment. Results suggest that a cognitive behavioural intervention to facilitate patient adjustment could usefully include management of stress and its appraisal, the fostering of adaptive coping strategies and utilization of social support resources. It is concluded that improving patient adjustment to rheumatoid arthritis has implications for medical care seeking.


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