2009 Volume 75 Issue 1 Pages 3-16
This study elucidates the characteristics of social relationships of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), from the viewpoints of social difficulties attributable to RA, interpersonal difficulties, social support, physician satisfaction, and social participation. It also assesses their effects on anxiety, depression, and hope. The following results were obtained from an Internet survey of 20-59-year-old people suffering from RA in Japan (N=238). Experiences of negative social relationships, such as the deterioration of workplace (33%) and family relationships (13%) because of RA and misunderstanding (98%) or criticism (68%) were common. Receiving emotional and instrumental support and providing support were reported less by males than females. After controlling for demographic characteristics and physical disability, most variables related to social relationships were directly or indirectly associated with anxiety, depression, or hope. However, each social relationship variable directly affected anxiety, depression, and hope in different ways. The variables that indicated direct, independent associations with anxiety or depression were mainly negative social relationships, such as deterioration of family relationships (β=.248, p<.001 ; β=.192, p=.003), misunderstandings (β=.151, p=.021 ; β=.179, p=.006), criticism (β=.144, p=.041), and receiving emotional support (β=−.216, p=.006 ; β=−.215, p=.007). Meanwhile, variables indicating direct, independent associations with hope were positive or active social relationships, such as providing and receiving social support (β=.227, p=.003 ; β=.189, p=.014), physician satisfaction (β=.150, p=.017), and social participation (β=.213, p<.001).
These results suggest that it is important to maintain social relationships of people with RA and focus on these from the perspective of the enhancement of hope in addition to the alleviation of anxiety and depression for the improvement of the psychological well-being.