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Autoimmun Rev. 2010 Feb;9(4):211-5. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2009.08.005. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Psychological stress in rheumatoid arthritis patients: a comparative Polish-German study: summary of the current conceptualization of the role of stress in rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Ergonomics, Central Institute for Labour Protection-National Research Institute, Czerniakowska 16, 00-701 Warsaw, Poland.


Cultural differences in experiencing individual stress in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients might be observed. The aim of the study was to assess quality of life and psychological stress (distress) in RA patients, and to evaluate socio-demographic and disease specific variables predicting stress of patients. The study covered 300 Polish and 137 German RA patients. SF-36v2 scale was used to evaluate the patients' health. Psychological stress was defined as the feeling of "social isolation" and "being a burden" as demanding help in everyday activities. In both countries, the mental and physical health of patients deteriorated and about 50% of patients required support in everyday activities. 95% of Polish and 62% of German patients felt rejected from social activities. For the psychological stress perceived, functional capacity class 3 and male gender were shown to be predictive in Polish patients and living in a small town - in German patients. In the Polish group, the tertiary/bachelor level of education was linked with lower distress level. RA has a serious impact on the mental health owing to a great disease burden. Awareness of impact of the disease on quality of life and psychological stress of patients should be considered in routine clinical practice.

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