Coping with rheumatoid arthritis. How can specialist nurses influence it and promote better outcomes?



  • Psychological stressors are said to be an important influence on the outcome of chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis (Engel, 1977).
  • Helping patients to cope with stressors is identified as a central concept in the delivery of nursing care (Khan et al., 1994). It is thus reasonable to suggest that rheumatology nurses may be key players in the process of coping with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • But in order for rheumatology nurses to be effective players in this process, they need to discourage coping behaviour(s) linked to poor outcomes, and/or promote an overall behaviour pattern linked to a better outcome. Literature showing the link between different coping behaviours and outcome is examined, and cognitive restructuring is emphasized as one method nurses could use.
  • Having identified coping behaviour which is optimal in terms of future outcome, further study of different forms of coping-based educational intervention is suggested, to reveal how such patterns of behaviour can be taught by nurses in the most effective way