The temporal relationship between depression and rheumatoid arthritis disease activity, treatment persistence and response: a systematic review

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Oct;52(10):1785-94. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kes356. Epub 2012 Dec 11.


Objective: To determine whether depression has a temporal association with RA disease activity, treatment persistence and response to therapy.

Methods: We performed a systematic review encompassing an electronic database search of all published literature since the availability of biologic response modifiers (beginning in 1998) investigating the impact of depression on downstream RA disease progression and treatment.

Results: Only seven articles that evaluated temporal relationships between depression and RA outcomes comprising disease activity, treatment persistence and response to therapy, were included in the review. Results from these studies suggest that depression may exacerbate pain and disease activity and decrease the efficacy of pharmacological (i.e. biologic and non-biologic DMARDs) and some non-pharmacological (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy) RA treatments.

Conclusion: Given the available evidence, depression probably has a temporal influence on RA disease progression and treatment. However, it is unclear whether these observed effects are due to a response tendency on patient-reported outcomes created from negative cognitive perceptions, immunologically mediated processes that increase inflammation or behavioural changes that lead to decreased physical activity and a greater sensitivity to pain.

Keywords: depression; rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents