Objective: The aim of this study was to characterize perceptions of health and well-being in women with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Women aged between 40 and 60 yr with RA for more than 3 yr, and who were receiving stable doses of anti-rheumatic drug therapy, were selected for study. The Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales 2 (AIMS2) was employed to quantify current health status impairments, the impairments that were attributed to RA, perceptions of current health status compared with other women of the same age, and perceptions of future health status.
Results: Fifty-eight patients were studied. The full range of 12 AIMS2 dimensions was used when quantifying impairments in health status. The dominant impairment was pain. Moreover, 88% of patients attributed current pain to RA. Fifty-two per cent perceived their health status to be fair, poor or very poor compared with other women of the same age. Twenty-five per cent expected poor future health status, compared with 10% who perceived poor current health status. Only one patient (2%) expected excellent future health status.
Conclusion: In this study, a large majority of women perceived impairments of health status that they attributed to RA. Pain was perceived as the predominant impairment. Deterioration in health status was anticipated by many. The inclusion of patient perceptions of health status and disease impact as outcome measures in both cross-sectional and longitudinal clinical research protocols merits further study.