Details of Publication 555 for Project A179:

Harris M, Loxton D, Sibbritt D & Byles J. The relative importance of psychosocial factors in arthritis: Findings from 10,509 Australian women Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2012; 73(4): 251-256

OBJECTIVE: To determine the relative importance of psychosocial factors in arthritis diagnosis in an ageing cohort of Australian women.METHODS: This study focused on 10,509 women from the 1946-1951 cohort who responded to questions on arthritis in the fifth mailed population-based survey of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health conducted in 2007.RESULTS: Arthritis was characterised by widespread psychosocial concerns, particularly relating to chronic stress and poor mental health. Univariate analyses revealed that in comparison to women without stress, women with moderate/high stress levels had a 2.5-fold increase in reporting arthritis. Experiencing ongoing negative interpersonal life events concerning illness of a family member/close friend and relationship difficulties was also associated with a 1.4-fold increase in the reporting of arthritis. Likewise, significantly reduced levels of optimism and perceived social support were noted (all associations p<.001). Psychiatric diagnosis was also associated with a two-fold increase in having arthritis (p<.001). Following adjustment for behavioural, demographic and health-related characteristics, anxiety was the only psychosocial factor associated with arthritis (OR=1.4, 95% CI=1.2, 1.7; p<.001).CONCLUSION: This study examined, epidemiologically, the relative importance of psychosocial factors in arthritis in an ageing cohort of Australian women. The findings from this population-based study indicate that women with arthritis are more likely to report a range of psychosocial-related problems, particularly with regard to chronic stress perception and anxiety. Longitudinal analyses are required to examine the processes by which stress and psychosocial factors may contribute to arthritis risk and poor adaptation in terms of health-related quality of life.

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