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Role of stress in the development of rheumatoid arthritis: a case–control study

Abstract : Objectives The primary objective of this study was to assess the stressful life events preceding the onset of symptoms in RA. The secondary objectives were to assess how early RA patients perceive stress and cope with stressors. Methods A case–control study was performed, comparing patients recently diagnosed with RA to age- and gender-matched control subjects recently hospitalized for an unplanned surgical procedure not known to be influenced by stress. The Social Readjustment Rating Scale assessed the cumulative stress induced by stressful life events in the year preceding the onset of symptoms. Coping strategies, stress and anxiety symptoms were evaluated using validated psychological scales. Results Seventy-six subjects were included in each group. The mean Social Readjustment Rating Scale score was twice as high in cases compared with controls [respectively, 167.0 (172.5) vs 83.3 (124.4), P < 0.001]. The association between cumulative stress and RA was statistically significant only in women, with a dose-dependent association between stress and RA. While female patients with RA attributed more often the onset of symptoms to a life event than female controls (70.2 vs 24.5%, P < 0.001), no significant difference was found when comparing male RA patients with male controls (26.9 vs 18.5%, respectively, P = 0.46). Increased perceived stress score (P = 0.04) and coping based on emotions (P = 0.001) were found in cases compared with controls. Conclusion Patients with early RA reported more life events in the year preceding the onset of symptoms than controls. Gender specificities were found with a significant association between cumulative stress and RA only in women.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03312611
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Submitted on : Monday, August 2, 2021 - 3:34:38 PM
Last modification on : Monday, August 30, 2021 - 10:44:11 AM

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Vincent Germain, Marc Scherlinger, Thomas Barnetche, Clémence Pichon, Alexandre Balageas, et al.. Role of stress in the development of rheumatoid arthritis: a case–control study. Rheumatology, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021, 60 (2), pp.629-637. ⟨10.1093/rheumatology/keaa216⟩. ⟨hal-03312611⟩

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