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Psychological aspects of rheumatoid arthritis

  • B. M. Gardiner (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2009

This study had 3 aims: to determine whether rheumatoid arthritics had certain personality traits; to examine the relationship between psychological factors and the presence of rheumatoid factor in blood serum; and to explore the prognostic significance of psychological factors in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Within a few days of discharge, 129 in-patient rheumatoid arthritics were clinically and psychologically assessed and allocated at random to 1 of 3 forms of follow-up care. The psychological assessment included measures of personality, non-psychotic psychiatric disturbance, and attitudes and beliefs. A year later all patients were reassessed. It was found that rheumatoid arthritics were more neurotic in personality, more likely to give socially desirable responses, and more prone to psychiatric disturbance, than the general population. Seropositive patients were less susceptible to psychiatric disturbance than seronegative patients. None of the psychological variables predicted disease activity, but those patients who rated themselves as ‘slow, dependent, and weak’ lost more time off work in the subsequent year.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Dr B. M. Gardiner, Department of Rheumatology, Westminster Hospital, Dean Ryle St, Horseferry Road, London SW1.
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E. W. Lowman , S. Miller , P. R. Lee , H. Stein , R. King & L. Heald (1954). Psychosocial factors in rehabilitation of the chronic rheumatoid arthritic. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 13, 312316.

H. F. Polley , W. M. Swenson & R. M. Steinhilber (1970). Personality characteristics of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Psychosomatics 11, 4549.

P. J. Vignos , H. M. Thompson , S. Katz . R. W. Maskowitz , S. Fink & K. H. Svec (1972). Comprehensive care and psychosocial factors in rehabilitation in chronic rheumatoid arthritis: a controlled study. Journal of Chronic Diseases 25, 457467.

W. W. K. Zung (1965). A self-rating depression scale. Archives of General Psychiatry 12, 6370.

W. W. K. Zung (1971). Depression in the normal adult population. Psychosomatics 12, 164167.

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Psychological Medicine
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