Living with rheumatoid arthritis: do personal and social resources make a difference?

(2012) Jozef Benka

Promotor: Prof. Dr. J.W. Groothoff , Prof. J.J.L. van der Klink

Copromotor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. J.P. van Dijk, Dr. I. Nagyova


Jozef Benka dizertacna praca The research aims of this thesis focus on social and personal resources in the context of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in relation to Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) and especially psychological distress. The first aim was to explore psychological distress and its associations with disease symptoms and social support in RA patients over time. Psychological distress was most strongly predicted by the initial level pain, the emotional support and the initial level of psychological distress. In addition, certain evidence for a moderating effect of emotional support on the impact of RA on depressive feelings was found. The second research aim focused on personal resources of the patients, and particularly on coping self-efficacy. The results showed that patients who reported higher self-efficacy to carry out coping behavior reported lower anxiety and depression levels. This finding remained significant regardless of the disease activity and personality differences among the patients. The third research topic focused on social participation and showed that patients with higher levels of perceived restrictions in social participation had a tendency to experience more pain, higher fatigue, worse functioning and generally lower HRQoL. This thesis has contributed to the research supporting the importance of personal and social resources as well as social participation in RA patients. The associations produced by personal and social resources clearly imply that patients´ resources need to be addressed during the treatment. The findings stress the need for partnership care and giving more competencies and involvement to the patients while battling their disease.