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Abstract

An important unanswered question about rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is how the patient's psychological or emotional state relates to disease activity and functional status. No controlled studies of psychothera-peutic interventions in RA have been reported. To test the hypothesis that a psychosocial intervention would lead to improvement in functional status or disease activity, 57 RA patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups, which received: 1) conventional group psychotherapy; 2) group assertion/relaxation training; or 3) no treatment (control group). Patient and physician questionnaires collected at baseline, immediately after the interventions, and 12 months after baseline provided outcome data on functional status, social and psychological adaptation, psychological symptoms, and disease activity. There were few outcome measures for which either treatment resulted in significantly higher scores than were seen in controls, though more improvement did occur among patients who received conventional group psychotherapy.