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Keywords:

  • Body image;
  • Depression;
  • Disability;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

Abstract

Objective

To examine the relationship between physical appearance concerns and psychological distress in patients with rheumatic diseases.

Methods

A total of 60 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 44 with chronic rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and 53 with recent-onset RA were evaluated for levels of appearance concern and a range of illness-specific measures to determine how these demographic and clinical variables were related to the dependent variable psychological distress.

Results

Using hierarchical multiple regression analyses, we found that both appearance concerns and levels of disability were predictive of depression in patients with RA. In the SLE sample, physical disability was predictive of depression when appearance concerns were not included in the analysis. However, disability did not predict depression when appearance concerns were entered into the analysis. This indicates that appearance concerns mediated the relationship between disability and depression in SLE. There was no association between appearance concerns and anxiety in either sample.

Conclusion

The results suggest that appearance concerns are strongly related to depression in patients with rheumatic diseases and should be routinely assessed.