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Aging Ment Health. 2012;16(5):666-72. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2011.651438. Epub 2012 Feb 24.

Experience of aging in patients with rheumatic disease: a comparison with the general population.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Health and Technology, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.



Self-perceptions of aging have been shown to predict mental and physical health and even longevity. This study examined the aging perceptions of patients with rheumatic disease and compared them with the general Dutch population.


Consecutive patients visiting a rheumatology clinic completed the Personal Experience of Aging Scale (PEAS) subscales: physical decline, social loss, continuous growth, and two sentence stems from the SELE instrument (What I like/do not like about getting older ...) as qualitative measures of the subjective experience of aging. A representative sample from the general Dutch population between 40 and 85 years was used as a comparison group. Participants included in this study were 208 patients with a rheumatic disease and 975 persons from the Dutch Aging Survey (DAS).


Both quantitative and qualitative data showed that patients perceived aging more strongly as physical decline. These negative experiences did not extend to social and psychological domains of aging. Age-group comparisons revealed that patients in middle adulthood experienced physical aging similar to older people without a rheumatic disease.


The negative experience of aging in patients is limited to the physical domain and does not extend to other domains of life. The negative experience of physical aging even in middle-aged groups warrants further studies on its effects on mental and physical health outcomes and health behavior in patients with rheumatic disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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