The stresses of rheumatoid arthritis: appraisals of perceived impact and coping efficacy

Arthritis Care Res. 1998 Feb;11(1):9-22. doi: 10.1002/art.1790110104.


Objective: This study examined appraisals of the impact of 7 stressors associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the perceived ability to cope with those stressors.

Methods: Subjects were 446 participants in a panel study of persons with RA. Data were derived from the 1994 annual interview.

Results: There were significant differences among mean ratings of the stressors. Taking care of RA, fatigue, pain, and functional impairment were rated as having the greatest impact; perceived coping efficacy was highest for medication side effects and taking care of RA. Appraisals of impact and coping efficacy were negatively correlated. Clinical factors were the strongest predictors of both appraisals. Depressive symptoms and instrumental support were also independently associated with both appraisals for most stressors.

Conclusions: All of the stressors were problematic to some degree, suggesting that coping research should include stressors other than pain and function. Most subjects rated the effects of these stressors as moderate, however. Future examination of the coping responses of these individuals may shed light on adaptation to RA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*