Pain coping and social support as predictors of long-term functional disability and pain in early rheumatoid arthritis

Behav Res Ther. 2003 Nov;41(11):1295-310. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(03)00036-6.


Pain-related avoidance factors and social resources, as assessed by pain coping and social support, are supposed to have lasting effects on functional disability and pain in chronic pain disorders. As a follow-up to a prospective study demonstrating short-term effects after one year (Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36, 179-193, 1998), the role of pain coping and social support at the time of diagnosis was investigated in relationship to the long-term course of functional disability and pain after three and five years in 78 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), taking into account personality characteristics of neuroticism and extraversion, clinical status and use of medication. In line with findings at the one-year follow-up, results showed that more passive pain coping predicted functional disability at the three-year, but not the five-year follow-up. In addition, low levels of social support at the time of diagnosis consistently predicted both functional disability and pain at the three and five-year follow-ups. Results indicate that pain coping and social support, assessed very early in the disease process, can affect long-term functional disability and pain in RA, and suggest that early interventions focusing on pain-related avoidance factors and social resources for patients at risk may beneficially influence long-term outcomes in RA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Prognosis
  • Social Support*