Disability and coping as predictors of psychological adjustment to rheumatoid arthritis

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1989 Jun;57(3):344-8. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.57.3.344.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients have been identified as a medical population at risk for psychological disorder, largely because of the pain and functional disability that are the hallmarks of the disease. This study examined the degree to which self-reported functional disability and coping efforts contribute to psychological adjustment among adult RA patients over a 6-month period. Adaptive outcomes included maintaining a sense of worth, mastery, and positive affect despite the illness. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that increases in disability were related to decreased acceptance of illness and increased negative affect. Coping efforts were related to increases in positive affect. The findings provide modest support for the role individual coping efforts play in shaping illness-related outcomes. Although disability is not easily reversed, knowledge about coping strategies that moderate its psychological impact may provide a useful basis for designing psychological interventions to promote adjustment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sick Role*