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Interpersonal process of dyadic coping in rheumatoid arthritis: a perspective from the Australian Rheumatology Association Database (ARAD).

OBJECTIVE: Dyadic coping, the process of coping that transpires between couples challenged by one partner's illness, is an important predictor of disease adjustment and patient wellbeing. However, dyadic coping in rheumatoid arthritis remains unclear. This study examines the effect of dyadic coping on psychological distress and relationship quality from both participants with rheumatoid arthritis as well as their spouse's perspective.

METHODS: Participants and their spouses were invited to participate in an online survey study if they were 18+ years and had lived together for more than a year. The survey included the Dyadic Coping Inventory, Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale and Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Participants and spouses completed the survey independently. The actor-partner interdependence model was used to analyze the dyadic data.

RESULTS: 163 couples participated. Our findings showed that participants who reported higher supportive dyadic coping reported lower depression, anxiety, stress and higher relationship quality. While participants who reported higher negative dyadic coping reported higher depression, anxiety, stress and lower relationship quality. Spouses who reported higher supportive dyadic coping reported higher relationship quality but no impact on depression, anxiety and stress was observed. However, spouses who reported higher negative dyadic coping reported higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress and lower relationship quality.

CONCLUSION: Participants and spouse's own views of supportive and negative dyadic coping they receive intimately affects their psychological distress and relationship quality. Also, having a partner with rheumatoid arthritis also seemed to impact the spouse especially when there was a negative dyadic coping pattern.

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