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Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Aug 15;51(4):586-92.

Impact of social support on valued activity disability and depressive symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0920, USA.



To examine the impact of instrumental and emotional support on valued life activity (VLA) disability and depressive symptoms. Instrumental support was expected to affect VLA disability; emotional support was expected to be associated with depressive symptoms and moderate the impact of VLA disability on depressive symptoms.


Data were collected over 3 years through interviews with the University of California, San Francisco, Rheumatoid Arthritis Panel. Analyses assessed whether instrumental support predicted later VLA disability and whether emotional support predicted both concurrent and later depressive symptoms.


Receiving adequate instrumental support was associated with less subsequent VLA disability. Strong associations were noted between both VLA disability and emotional support with concurrent depressive symptoms. No relationship was found between emotional support and later depression. No evidence was found for the hypothesis that emotional support moderated the impact of VLA disability on depressive symptoms.


Results highlight the need to assess different types of support and their unique impact on critical outcomes. Instrumental support is beneficial to the maintenance of valued activities, a critical factor in the psychological adjustment of individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis. Emotional support has a significant short-term impact on depression, although it may not buffer the impact of VLA disability on future depression.

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