Objective: To examine the role of function and functional changes in the development of depressive symptoms among women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Data from a longitudinal panel study of persons with RA were used. Functional changes were assessed from 1989 to 1991, and depressive symptoms during 1992.
Results: Loss of valued activities was a significant risk factor for the developing depressive symptoms (i.e., score of > or = 7 on the Short Form Geriatric Depression Scale), but overall functional decline was not.
Conclusion: The aspect of functional decline that leads to development of depressive symptoms is the loss of valued activities, not simply the functional impairment.