Purpose: The aim of the study was to examine whether rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with different levels of restriction in social participation differ in disease related as well as psychosocial variables and whether a similar pattern can be found among early and established RA patients.
Method: Two samples of RA patients with early (n = 97; age = 53 +/- 12.3 years; disease duration = 2.8 +/- 1.2 years; 76% women) and established (n = 143; age = 58 +/- 10.3 years; disease duration = 16.1 +/- 3.6 years; 86% women) were collected. The pattern of differences for the patients with different level of participation restriction (no restriction, mild, moderate or high restriction) was explored by the Jonckheere-Terpstra test. Results: Significant differences were found between patients with different levels of social participation restrictions in both samples in pain, fatigue, functional disability, anxiety, depression and mastery. Generally, it was found that patients with higher restrictions experienced more pain and fatigue, more anxiety and depression and reported lower mastery. Similar pattern of differences concerning disease activity and self-esteem was found mainly in the established group. Conclusions: The study shows that the level of perceived restrictions in social participation are highly relevant regarding the disease related variables such as pain, fatigue and functional disability as well as psychological status and personal resources in both early and established RA.
Implications for Rehabilitation
Supporting involvement and participation of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis is important for decreasing the impact of RA symptoms on everyday life.
Recognition and empowerment of individual resources such a mastery and self-esteem of RA patients could be beneficial for overcoming restrictions in participation.