Objectives: Psychological factors may be important in the assessment and management of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Our primary objective was to describe associations between disease and psychological status in AS, using AS-specific assessment tools and questionnaires. Our secondary objectives were to identify patient subgroups based on such associations and to determine the stability of the measures over time.
Methods: A total of 110 patients were assessed at 6-monthly intervals up to four times using tools to measure disease [Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI), Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (BASFI) and the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Metrology Index (BASMI)], psychological [Hospital Anxiety and Depression Questionnaire (HADS), Health Locus of Control-Form C Questionnaire (HLC-C)] and generic health [Short form (SF)-36] status.
Results: Eighty-nine participants completed all four assessments. Throughout the study, BASDAI, BASFI and BASMI scores correlated significantly with anxiety, depression, internality and health status, but not with levels of belief in chance or powerful others. Clinically anxious or depressed subgroups had significantly worse BASDAI and BASFI, but not BASMI, scores. BASMI scores were the least closely linked to psychological status. Mean scores for disease, psychological and health status were clinically stable over the 18 months period.
Conclusions: Disease status scores in AS correlated significantly with anxiety, depression, internality and health status. Interpretation of AS disease scores should take an account of psychological status and the choice of measures used. These findings have important potential applications in AS management and monitoring, including the identification of patients for biological therapies.