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Health Psychol. 1988;7(6):527-44.

A cognitive-behavioral treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903.


This experiment tested a cognitive-behavioral rheumatoid arthritis treatment designed to confer skills in managing stress, pain, and other symptoms of the disease. We hypothesized that a mediator of the magnitude of treatment effects might be enhancement of perceived self-efficacy to manage the disease. It was predicted that the treatment would reduce arthritis symptoms and possibly would improve both immunologic competence and psychological functioning. The treatment provided instruction in self-relaxation, cognitive pain management, and goal setting. A control group received a widely available arthritis helpbook containing useful information about arthritis self-management. We obtained suggestive evidence of an enhancement of perceived self-efficacy, reduced pain and joint inflammation, and improved psychosocial functioning in the treated group. No change was demonstrated in numbers or function of T-cell subsets. The magnitude of the improvements was correlated with degree of self-efficacy enhancement.

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