Irish Journal of Medical Science

, Volume 180, Issue 1, pp 203–210

The psychological impact of arthritis: the effects of illness perception and coping

  • Y. Zyrianova
  • B. D. Kelly
  • J. Sheehan
  • C. McCarthy
  • T. G. Dinan
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11845-010-0522-2

Cite this article as:
Zyrianova, Y., Kelly, B.D., Sheehan, J. et al. Ir J Med Sci (2011) 180: 203. doi:10.1007/s11845-010-0522-2



Coping and illness perception are considered to be important contributors in the relationship between physical and psychological factors in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


The aim of this study was to examine the complex relationship of coping and illness perception on physical and psychological factors in RA using a structural model.


We assessed coping, illness perception, depression, anxiety, pain, arthritis-related disability and perceived social support in 68 adults with RA.


Greater pain was detected in patients with increased scores on passive coping scale, greater severity of physical disability and increased depression and anxiety. Illness perception was found to be a mediator in the relationship between physical disability and passive coping on one hand and depression, anxiety and pain on the other.


The hypothesised structural model has proven to be a useful paradigm for understanding the associations between multiple factors in RA presentation: clinical, emotional, personal and cognitive.


Illness perceptionActive copingPassive copingArthritis-related disabilityPsychological factors in rheumatoid arthritis

Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Zyrianova
    • 1
  • B. D. Kelly
    • 2
  • J. Sheehan
    • 2
  • C. McCarthy
    • 3
  • T. G. Dinan
    • 4
  1. 1.UCD School of PsychotherapySt. Vincent’s University HospitalDublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryMater Misericordiae University HospitalDublin 7Ireland
  3. 3.Department of RheumatologyMater Misericordiae University HospitalDublin 7Ireland
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity CollegeCorkIreland