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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 May;47(5):660-4. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ken095. Epub 2008 Mar 20.

Psychological functioning of children and adolescents with juvenile idiopathic arthritis is related to physical disability but not to disease status.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford, UK. tina.ding@doctors.net.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

This study investigates the psychological functioning of children with polyarticular joint disease and its association with disease activity and disability.

METHODS:

Sixty children aged 7-18 yrs with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and >4 joints involved were recruited. Children underwent a physical examination. The Childhood HAQ was completed by both the children and their parents. Children also completed questionnaires for depression (Birleson Depression Inventory; BDI), anxiety (Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale; RCMAS) and peer, emotional and behavioural problems (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire; SDQ). Clinical information was extracted from the hospital records.

RESULTS:

Self-reported psychological functioning (depression, anxiety, and behaviour) was not different from the normal population. Parent-reported emotional difficulties on the SDQ were somewhat elevated. There were no significant correlations between psychological functioning and physician-rated disease activity score or the number of active joints at the time of assessment. Furthermore, no differences in psychological functioning were found between children with or without significantly raised inflammatory markers. All aspects of psychological function (depression, anxiety and behaviour) correlated moderately with physical function (r(s) = 0.49, 0.41, 0.46, respectively; all P < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

Children and adolescents with polyarthritis are not at significantly elevated risk of psychological difficulties. Poor psychological outcome was associated with more severe physical disability but not with the level of disease activity.

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