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Keywords:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Quality of life;
  • Social support;
  • Caregivers;
  • Knowledge of disease

Abstract

Objective

To examine the relationships between the quality of life (QOL) of women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and 1) their perceived levels of social support and 2) their primary caregivers' knowledge of RA and its treatment.

Methods

Women aged 40–60 years with established RA completed validated questionnaires on health status (Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales 2) and satisfaction with the levels of social support from their primary caregiver (Significant Others Scale A). In addition, both the caregivers and patients independently completed questionnaires that were designed to elicit knowledge of RA and its treatment.

Results

Fifty-eight patients and their primary caregivers completed the questionnaires. Analysis of the patients' health status demonstrated widespread biopsychosocial impairments. Arthritis pain, identified as the poorest health status dimension, was associated with the lowest levels of satisfaction, and received the highest priority for health status improvement. In contrast, the patients reported highest levels of satisfaction with social support from family and friends. Positive associations between social support variables and a number of QOL measures were observed. Both the caregivers and the patients displayed limited knowledge of RA and its treatment. Associations between the levels of knowledge and the patients' QOL measures were not observed.

Conclusion

In this study of women with RA and their caregivers, a limited knowledge of disease did not appear to impact QOL measures. However, failure to detect an association between knowledge of disease and QOL may have been influenced by a combination of the relatively small study numbers and insufficient variation in caregivers' knowledge, such that a floor effect existed.