Objectives: To test the hypothesis of an epidemiological relationship between stressful events and the date of emergence of temporal arteritis and/or polymyalgia rheumatica.
Methods: Thirteen patients identified with anatomo-clinical criteria and whose mental state permitted prolonged questioning where included in the survey. A list of 65 events, covering the 2-year period preceding the onset of temporal arteritis and/or polymyalgia rheumatica, was used. Each event was assessed using an emotional scale with positive (1 to 10) or negative scores (-1 to -10). Zero corresponded to an event without impact. An event score was drawn-up for each patient. The results were compared with those of a control group of 26 paired (age and gender) controls, 2 controls for each patient were included.
Results: In the group of patients, 12/13 (92.3%) had suffered from negative events 2 years before diagnosis of their disease, with a total of 35 negative events and a score of -271. In the control group, only 10/26 (38.8%) had suffered from negative events with a total of 21 negative events and a score of -132. The comparison (chi 2 test) of the total of recent negative events (2 years before diagnosis) for both groups, i.e., 35/112 versus 21/232, revealed a highly significant difference (chi 2 = 27.3; p < 0.00001). Conversely, there was no significant difference between the two groups regarding the total events having occurred throughout their lifetime.
Conclusion: This result suggests the influence of stressful events in the clinical emergence of temporal arteritis and/or polymyalgia rheumatica.