The psychological impact of arthritis: the effects of illness perception and coping

Ir J Med Sci. 2011 Mar;180(1):203-10. doi: 10.1007/s11845-010-0522-2. Epub 2010 Jul 30.


Background: Coping and illness perception are considered to be important contributors in the relationship between physical and psychological factors in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Aims: The aim of this study was to examine the complex relationship of coping and illness perception on physical and psychological factors in RA using a structural model.

Methods: We assessed coping, illness perception, depression, anxiety, pain, arthritis-related disability and perceived social support in 68 adults with RA.

Results: Greater pain was detected in patients with increased scores on passive coping scale, greater severity of physical disability and increased depression and anxiety. Illness perception was found to be a mediator in the relationship between physical disability and passive coping on one hand and depression, anxiety and pain on the other.

Conclusions: The hypothesised structural model has proven to be a useful paradigm for understanding the associations between multiple factors in RA presentation: clinical, emotional, personal and cognitive.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Social Support