A longitudinal study of 75 young women (median age 43 yr) with early RA was performed with psychological, clinical and functional status measured every 4 months for up to 44 months. The aim was to describe functional changes, and to estimate the association between psychosocial variables and function in the early years after diagnosis. Function was measured by the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and improved on average by about 10% per year with most improvement occurring over the first year. Pain and psychosocial variables also improved over time. There was still a residual improvement in HAQ with time of about 4% per year not accounted for by changes in these measured variables. When examined over time, psychosocial variables were as important as disease and pain in determining function. The results suggest interventions based on the importance of maintaining social relationships could impact on function.
- Longitudinal study
- Rheumatoid arthritis