Objective: To investigate the hypothesis that children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) would have more social and emotional problems than case-control classmates.
Methods: Using a case-control design, children with JRA (n = 74), ages 8-14, were compared with case-control classmates (n = 74). Peer relationships, emotional well-being, and behavior, based on peer-, teacher-, parent-, and self-report scores on common measures, were compared using analysis of variance.
Results: Relative to case-control classmates, children with JRA were similar on all measures of social functioning and behavior. Mothers reported more internalizing symptoms in the child with JRA, but child self reports and father reports showed no differences. Scores on all standardized measures were in the normal range for both the JRA and the case-control groups.
Conclusion: Children with JRA were remarkably similar to case-control children on measures of social functioning, emotional well-being, and behavior. These findings are not supportive of disability/stress models of chronic illness in childhood and suggest considerable psychological hardiness among children with JRA.