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Psychosocial factors and self-help in ankylosing spondylitis patients

Summary

The purpose of this research was to investigate psychological factors associated with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), focusing on possible differences between members and nonmembers of self-help groups for people with this form of chronic disease. Analysis of health locus of control beliefs along 3 dimensions: internality powerful others and chance, showed that members of National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) self-help groups placed significantly less reliance on “powerful others” for control of health than did nonmembers. This pattern of beliefs may be related to the nature of AS, which is incurable, progressive, unpredictable and difficult to diagnose. It may therefore appear to the patient that health care professionals have little to offer them. People who join a self-help group may also feel less reliant on medical personnel to control their health. Group members also differed from nonmembers in terms of belief in the value of exercise for AS, frequency of exercise, tendency to seek information about the disorder and perceived social support. A combination of psychosocial and medical variables discriminated between members and nonmembers at a rate of 71.9% accuracy. Results indicate that NASS self-help group members appear to comply more with exercise treatment and also receive a valuable source of social support from fellow members. This investigation demonstrates the utility of including psychosocial variables in the study of chronic disease.

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Correspondence to J. H. Barlow.

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Barlow, J.H., Macey, S.J. & Struthers, G. Psychosocial factors and self-help in ankylosing spondylitis patients. Clin Rheumatol 11, 220–225 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02207961

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Key words

  • Psychosocial Factors
  • Self-Help
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis