If You're Poor and Have Rheumatoid Arthritis, You're More Likely To Get Depressed

Race, income, education affect degree of suffering, study finds

FRIDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with low socioeconomic status are at increased risk for depression, a new study finds.

Previous research has shown that 13 percent to 42 percent of RA patients experience depression, which is associated with worse outcomes.

In this new study, researchers analyzed data from 824 hospital or clinic visits made by 466 RA patients and found that 37 percent of them had moderate to severe depression.

The researchers, reporting in the February issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research, also looked at measures of socioeconomic status, such as race, income, education and health access.

There were significant differences between depressed and non-depressed patients in terms of race, physical limitations, treatment with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, and care at a public vs. university hospital.

Differences in depression severity were not affected by gender, age, disease duration, steroid use and dose or biological therapy, said the researchers at the Arthritis Research Group, University of California, San Francisco, in a news release from the journal's publisher.

"For the same level of disability, patients with low [socioeconomic status] may be more likely to experience depression," the researchers concluded. "Detection and documentation of the differing effects of disability on depression between patients of different socioeconomic status can help rheumatologists improve health outcomes by initiating appropriate and timely treatment for depression."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about rheumatoid arthritis.

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