Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 133-138

First online:

Distress and disease status among patients with rheumatoid arthritis: Roles of coping styles and perceived responses from support providers

  • Kenneth W. GriffinAffiliated withWeill Medical College of Cornell University Email author 
  • , Ronald FriendAffiliated withState University of New York at Stony Brook
  • , Alan T. KaellAffiliated withState University of New York at Stony Brook
  • , Ronald S. BennettAffiliated withState University of New York at Stony Brook

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Previous research has shown that social support can have a beneficial impact on coping processes and psychological adjustment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The association of individual coping styles and perceived responses from others to one’s pain episodes with patients’ distress and disease status over time was investigated. The sample consisted of 42 middle-aged patients with RA who were predominantly White (98%), female (64%), and married (88%). Participants completed surveys and their rheumatologist completed clinical assessments of patient disease status at 2 time points over a 9-month period. Although punishing responses from others (e.g., getting irritated or angry when the patient is in pain) were perceived as relatively infrequent, they were associated with a patient coping style of focusing on and venting of negative emotion as well as elevated negative affect (NA). Findings also indicated that those who perceived punishing responses from close others and coped by venting negative emotions reported increased NA over time and were rated by their rheumatologist as having more severe RA disease status over time. Implications for psychosocial intervention and directions for future research are discussed.