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J Rheumatol. 1997 Jul;24(7):1309-16.

The association between external weather conditions and pain and stiffness in women with rheumatoid arthritis.

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St. Vincent's Hospital, Department of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia.



To determine the self-reported prevalence of weather sensitivity in a sample of female patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to determine if there is objective evidence of associations between weather and pain and stiffness in female patients with RA.


Fifty-three female patients residing in the Sydney metropolitan area participated in a study on the psychological determinants of disability from 1985 to 1987. During the study, subjects recorded pain on a visual analog scale and duration of morning stiffness for 14 day periods at 3-4 monthly intervals over 1-3 years (X = 15.7 months). After completion of the study, data on weather conditions were collected from the Bureau of Meteorology for the days that pain and stiffness records were made. Descriptive statistics and autoregression were used to analyze the data.


Sixty percent of subjects reported that they were sensitive to weather. Six weather variables made a statistically significant contribution to daily pain score (p < 0.0001). However, they accounted for only 2.5% of the variance. Two weather variables contributed to duration of morning stiffness (p < 0.0001), but again these variables accounted for only a small portion of the variance (1.1%). A separate analysis for pain was carried out on the data from subjects who reported being weather sensitive. The results were consistent with those of the other analyses, with 2 variables accounting for only 1.7% of the variance (p < 0.0001).


On the basis of these results it appears that weather makes only a minimal contribution to pain and stiffness in women with RA. The study may have been limited by its use of static measures of weather variables and pain. Further research using dynamic measures of pain and weather and a more extensive range of weather variables is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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