Patterns of psychosocial risk and long-term outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis

Psychol Health Med. 2008 Oct;13(5):529-44. doi: 10.1080/13548500801927113.


This study examined the extent to which patterns of psychosocial risk were uniquely associated with long-term outcomes of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), after demographic factors and self-reported symptom severity over time were accounted for. Data were collected over an 8-year period from 561 individuals with RA who were participants in the ongoing UCSF RA Panel Study in 1995. Panel members were interviewed annually, using a comprehensive structured telephone interview. Psychosocial factors assessed included mastery, perceptions about adequacy of social support, the impact of RA and self-assessed ability to cope with RA and satisfaction with health and function. Cluster analysis of psychosocial factors identified three distinctive patterns/levels of psychosocial risk (high, medium and low risk). The unique effects of psychosocial risk status on changes in depressive symptoms, basic functional limitations, global pain ratings and average annual doctor visits over an 8-year period were estimated, using growth curve analyses. Analyses controlled for demographic factors (gender, marital/partner status, education, age and ethnicity), disease duration and year in the panel and time-varying self-reported symptom severity (morning stiffness, swollen joint counts, co-morbid medical conditions, extra-articular RA symptoms and changes in joint appearance), as well as self-reported medications taken over time (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs [DMARDS], and prednisone). Overall, 32.4% of total variance in depressive symptoms was accounted for by the fully-estimated model, with 12.9% uniquely associated with psychosocial risk status. Half of the total variance (50.0%) in basic functional limitations was explained, with 12.1% of variance uniquely predicted by psychosocial risk status. Psychosocial risk status accounted for comparatively little total explained variance in global pain ratings (total = 38.6%, incremental = 3.2%), and average annual total doctor visits (total = 10.9%, incremental = 1.5%). Thus, psychosocial risk factors are more closely linked to depressive symptoms and function over time. Global pain and utilization appear to be more closely related to disease factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Survivors / psychology*