Perceptions about perceived functional disabilities and pain of people with rheumatoid arthritis: differences between patients and their spouses and correlates with well-being

Arthritis Care Res. 2000 Oct;13(5):255-61. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200010)13:5<255::aid-anr3>;2-3.


Objective: In this study we examined the differences in perceptions of the patient's health status between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and their spouses, and correlates of these differences with patients' and spouses' well-being.

Methods: A sample of 188 couples with one member receiving treatment for RA were selected from the rheumatology clinics in Twente, The Netherlands. The mean age of both RA patients and spouses was 56 years. Respondents completed questionnaires, including estimations of both patients and spouses on the patient's functional disabilities and pain, and scales on affect and marital commitment for patients and spouses.

Results: Differences in estimations of patients and spouses were considerable. Both over- and underestimations of the patient's functional disabilities by the spouse were associated with the patient's poorer mental health status. Overestimations of the patient's functional disabilities were associated with poorer mental health among spouses.

Conclusion: It is essential that any support intended by the spouse is in accordance with the patient's needs. If the patient's condition is misperceived by the spouse, this can lead to ineffective and inappropriate support being given.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires