Children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: are health outcomes better for those diagnosed younger?

Child Care Health Dev. 2013 May;39(3):442-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2012.01386.x. Epub 2012 Jun 8.


Background: Children living with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) have swollen, painful and stiff joints, which may have an impact on all spheres of their life, as well as their family. While children diagnosed in their preschool years may be at risk for worse physical outcomes than children diagnosed later in life, it is not clear whether they have worse psychological outcomes and whether these outcomes have an impact on their everyday life. The aim of this study was to examine the association between age at diagnosis and health outcomes in families of children with JIA.

Methods: Parents of children with JIA (n = 182) who attended rheumatology clinics at the Montreal Children's Hospital and British Columbia Children's Hospital completed measures assessing socio-demographic attributes, their child's health status, health-related quality of life and pain level, as well as their own level of psychological distress and coping behaviours. Regression models explored the association between age at diagnosis and health outcomes while adjusting for sex, age, severity and duration of the disease.

Results: Parents of children diagnosed with JIA before 5 years of age found their child to have a better health-related quality of life in terms of psychosocial functioning than parents of children diagnosed later [β = -0.91 (-1.63, -0.19)]. Children diagnosed younger were also found to be less limited in schoolwork or activities with friends because of emotional or behavioural problems than children diagnosed later [odds ratio = 0.07 (0.01, 0.42)].

Conclusions: Children diagnosed younger seem to show good psychosocial adjustment, which may also be true for their caregivers. Perhaps more attention to psychosocial adjustment should be given to families of children who are diagnosed with the disease at an older age.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / psychology
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / rehabilitation
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Family Health
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Parents / psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology