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J Rheumatol. 1993 Jul;20(7):1114-20.

The role of helplessness in the response to disease modifying drugs in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego (UCSD), School of Medicine.


Fifty patients with rheumatoid arthritis participated in an assessment of their helplessness before and after a 3-month disease modifying drug trial. A multidimensional approach measuring helplessness was used, assessing cognitive, affective, and behavioral components. Both before and after the drug trial, helplessness indices accounted for a highly significant amount of variation in self-reported pain and functional disability. Moreover, Time 1 helplessness predicted greater flare activity after the drug trial. Helplessness indices, however, did not correlate with joint examination measures within time periods, nor did they predict change in these measures over the drug trial. The importance of the role of helplessness in subjective and objective measures of clinical status in persons undergoing drug therapy is discussed.

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