Original Article

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. HarrisAffiliated withPriority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle Email author 
  • , Deborah LoxtonAffiliated withPriority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
  • , David W. SibbrittAffiliated withPriority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Faculty of Health, University of NewcastleFaculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney
  • , Julie E. BylesAffiliated withPriority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle

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Abstract

Background

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.

Purpose

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

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusion

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.

Keywords

Arthritis Perceived stress Risk factor Women