Interpersonal Process of Dyadic Coping in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Perspective From the Australian Rheumatology Association Database

J Rheumatol. 2024 Jun 15:jrheum.2023-0664. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.2023-0664. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: Dyadic coping, the process of coping that transpires between couples challenged by one partner's illness, is an important predictor of disease adjustment and patient well-being. However, the extent of dyadic coping in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains unclear. This study examines the effect of dyadic coping on psychological distress and relationship quality from the perspectives of both participants with RA and their spouses.

Methods: Participants and their spouses were invited to participate in an online survey study if they were aged ≥ 18 years and had lived together for more than a year. The survey included the Chronic Pain Grade Scale, Dyadic Coping Inventory, Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, and Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Participants and spouses completed the survey independently. The actor-partner interdependence model was used to analyze the dyadic data.

Results: One hundred sixty-three couples participated. Our findings showed that participants who reported higher supportive dyadic coping reported lower depression, anxiety, and stress, and higher relationship quality, whereas participants who reported higher negative dyadic coping reported higher depression, anxiety, and stress, and lower relationship quality. Spouses who reported higher supportive dyadic coping reported higher relationship quality, but no effect on depression, anxiety, and stress was observed. In contrast, spouses who reported higher negative dyadic coping reported higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, and lower relationship quality.

Conclusion: Participants' and spouses' perceptions of supportive and negative dyadic coping closely influenced their psychological distress and relationship quality. Further, having a partner with RA also seemed to affect the spouse, especially when there was a negative dyadic coping pattern.