Anxiety impacts rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and health-related quality of life even at low levels

Dana D. DiRenzo, Ethan T. Craig, Clifton O. Bingham, Susan J. Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: We explored the burden of symptoms of anxiety and depression on health-related quality of life (HRQL) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: Adults with RA participating in an observational cohort completed PROMIS tests of depression, anxiety, fatigue, physical function (PF), pain interference (PI), sleep disturbance, and participation in social roles and activities at the baseline visit. Clinical measures of disease status were also obtained. We used ANOVA and partial correlation adjusting for the swollen joint count (SJC) to examine associations of anxiety and depression with other aspects of HRQL. Mild and moderate-severe anxiety were defined as T-scores ≥55.4 and ≥ 62.3 and mild and moderate-severe depression was defined as ≥52.5 and ≥58.6 based on previous validated clinical thresholds. Multivariable linear regression (MVR) was used to identify predictors of emotional distress with a subset analysis of those in remission/low disease activity. RESULTS: Of 196 RA participants, 18% had mild anxiety, 9% had moderate-severe anxiety, 18% had mild depression, and 14% had moderate-severe depression symptoms. Anxiety and depression scores were associated with significantly worse mean scores across HRQL domains (p <0.05). In MVR, depression (β=0.75, p<0.001), PF (β=0.14, p=0.024) and fatigue (β=0.15, p=0.015) predicted higher anxiety levels, whereas only anxiety predicted higher depression levels (β=0.70, p=<0.001). In subset analysis, PF no longer predicted higher anxiety levels. CONCLUSIONS: Emotional distress is common in RA, even when disease is well controlled, with considerable impacts on other aspects of HRQL even at mild levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1176-1181
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and experimental rheumatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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