Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 9–18

The Influence of Perceived Stress on the Onset of Arthritis in Women: Findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health

  • Melissa L. Harris
  • Deborah Loxton
  • David W. Sibbritt
  • Julie E. Byles
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12160-013-9478-6

Cite this article as:
Harris, M.L., Loxton, D., Sibbritt, D.W. et al. ann. behav. med. (2013) 46: 9. doi:10.1007/s12160-013-9478-6



Psychosocial factors are considered as risk factors for some chronic diseases. A paucity of research exists surrounding the role of perceived stress in arthritis onset.


Perceived stress as a risk factor for arthritis development was explored in an ageing cohort of Australian women.


This study focused on 12,202 women from the 1946–1951 cohort who completed the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health surveys in 2001, 2004 and 2007. Longitudinal associations were modelled, with and without a time lag.


Findings from the multivariate time lag modelling, excluding women with persistent joint pain, revealed that perceived stress predicted the onset of arthritis, with women experiencing minimal and moderate/high stress levels having a 1.7 and 2.4 times greater odds of developing arthritis 3 years later, respectively (p’s < 0.001).


Chronically perceiving life as stressful is detrimental to future health. The findings provide support for perceived stress to be considered alongside other modifiable risk factors.


ArthritisPerceived stressRisk factorWomen

Supplementary material

12160_2013_9478_MOESM1_ESM.docx (57 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 56.5 kb)

Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa L. Harris
    • 1
  • Deborah Loxton
    • 1
  • David W. Sibbritt
    • 1
    • 2
  • Julie E. Byles
    • 1
  1. 1.Priority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Faculty of HealthUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of HealthUniversity of Technology SydneyBroadwayAustralia