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Health Educ Q. 1993 Spring;20(1):119-32.

Coping with rheumatoid arthritis: is one problem the same as another?

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Rehabilitation Program Office, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina.


This study examined how individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cope with illness-related problems in four different areas: daily activities, leisure activities, work, and social relationships. Eighty-five people with RA took part in the study. They participated in an in-depth interview that focused on the types of changes they had experienced in their lives as a result of their arthritis and how they had coped with these changes. Audiotapes of the interviews were transcribed and content analyzed to assess participants' coping behavior. In addition, standardized measures of psychological and physical functioning were administered shortly following the original interview and at a 4-month follow-up. Three major findings emerged. First, people relied less heavily on behavioral coping strategies when dealing with problems involving social relationships than when dealing with problems involving daily activities, leisure activities, or work. Second, there was little consistency in individuals' use of either cognitive or behavioral strategies across different problem areas. Finally, individuals who exhibited limited flexibility in their coping responses experienced poorer psychological functioning compared with more flexible copers. Implications of these findings for health education practice and future research on coping with RA are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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