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Depression 'a better predictor of work disability than disease activity' in early arthritis

Published on 14 June 2013
Depression 'a better predictor of work disability than disease activity' in early arthritisA person's mental health status may give a better indication of their capacity to work following a diagnosis of arthritis than measures relating to their disease activity or response to treatment, new research suggests.

Scientists at the German Rheumatism Research Centre in Berlin studied data on 573 patients, all of whom were under 63 years of age and had been living with inflammatory arthritis for less than six months.

Participants were analysed to see whether any factors influenced their decision to request disability pension within the first 12 months of their treatment.

Patients reported on a number of factors, including pain, morning stiffness, fatigue, functional capacity and symptoms of depression.

The researchers found that 21 per cent of people with moderate depression took early retirement or considered doing so within 12 months of being diagnosed with arthritis, along with 45 per cent of those with severe depression.

Lead study author Professor Angela Zink, who presented the results at the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, said: "Our findings demonstrate that whether or not patients with early arthritis consider applying for disability pension is more dependent on mental conditions than disease activity.

"As arthritis has a significant financial impact on patients and society, well-directed attention on wellbeing in the early stages of disease may help patients remain in the workforce."

A spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK said:” We’re aware that depression is one of the long-term effects of rheumatoid arthritis and GPs need to be able to manage this so that people can stay n work.”

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