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Abstract

A cross-sectional, descriptive, comparative design was used with a sample of 26 women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 23 women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and 28 healthy (HLT) women to examine: (a) the relationship of illness to perceived health status, self-esteem and body image, (b) the relationships between perceived health status and both self-esteem and body image, (c) the relationship between these three variables and age and time since diagnosis, and (d) the problems, needs and fears of women with RA and SLE. Perceived health status differences were found between the ill and healthy subjects, but self-esteem differences were nonsignificant; mean scores on body image of RA and HLT groups approximated each other, while SLE subjects had lower scores. Perceived health status was directly related to self-esteem, but not to body image. Age and time since diagnosis were weakly positively related to perceived health status. Both similarities and differences were identified in the problems, needs and fears of RA and SLE subjects.