Mental Anguish Is Common with Arthritis

Published Online: Monday, November 1, 2004

The debilitating pain of arthritis appears to cause mental distress and diminish arthritis patients' quality of life, according to a study reported recently in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

The researchers based their conclusions on data from the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which included 48,577 participants with arthritis who were 45 years of age or older.

The researchers defined recurrent mental distress as having at least 14 self-reported unhealthy days in the preceding 30 days. The results indicated that 13.4% of the arthritis patients had frequent mental distress, compared with 5.4% of the participants without arthritis who were included in the surveillance study. Of the arthritis patients, those with frequent mental distress were 1.7 times more apt to be underweight than normal weight, and 1.2 times more likely to be obese, compared with those without mental distress.

Additional results showed that arthritis patients with frequent mental distress were 1.6 times more likely to be inactive. This group was also more likely to categorize their health as fair or poor and to have at least 14 unhealthy days in the prior 30 days, compared with other arthritis patients who did not experience frequent mental distress.

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