LONDON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Levels of depression and anxiety in people with severe rheumatoid arthritis are higher than previously reported, according to a new research by British scientists.
The researchers from University of Manchester said that patients with severe arthritis should be routinely screened for depression by their doctors. They also suggested that the way disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis is currently recorded should be changed to improve the way that patients were managed.
The team carried out an observational study of 322 patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis who were waiting to go on biologic therapy. The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of psychological factors upon each of the different parts of the current measure of disease called the DAS28.
The DAS28 score takes into account the number of tender and swollen joints and the level of inflammation in the body. It also includes a subjective, patient-reported measure based on how well the patient is feeling.
The researchers found that subjective measures of response were more likely to be influenced by psychological factors such as mood or beliefs about their illness and the therapies used.
"This is the first study of its kind in patients with high levels of active disease, and suggests that routinely assessing a patient's moods and beliefs would be useful in guiding patient management," professor Anne Barton who led the study said.
"As rheumatologists we need to be aware that depression may occur more commonly in patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis than we had realized," she added.