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Physical and social functioning in adolescents with rheumatological conditions: a study of predictors



Dr Jacqui Clinch, Bath Centre for Pain Services, Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath BA1 1RL, UK.

Tel: +44 1225 473 427 |

Fax: +44 1225 473 461 |




This study examines possible predictors of physical and social functioning in adolescents with rheumatological conditions. Condition-related variables and psychosocial variables were studied, and their relative contribution as predictors was examined.


The study population was one hundred and twelve adolescents (11–18 years) attending secondary and tertiary paediatric rheumatology outpatient clinics in south-west England. These adolescents completed validated self-report accounts of disease history, pain and functioning (condition-related variables) and the Bath Adolescent Pain Questionnaire (psychosocial variables). Correlation and regression analyses were used to establish influences on physical and social functioning, examining condition-related variables and psychosocial variables as separate blocks.


Physical functioning was independently associated with age at onset, intensity of pain, presence of depression and pain-specific anxiety. Social functioning was only associated with general anxiety. The presence of an inflammatory diagnosis had no bearing on optimal functioning in this study.


Condition-related variables (age at onset, pain intensity) and psychosocial variables (depression, pain-specific anxiety) were equally important for physical functioning, whereas psychosocial variables (general anxiety) were more influential for social functioning. Understanding the impact of disease and associated variables in the adolescent rheumatology population should optimize targeted multidisciplinary rehabilitation for the young person and their family.