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Emotion regulation predicts change of perceived health in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
  1. H van Middendorp1,
  2. R Geenen1,
  3. M J Sorbi1,
  4. L J P van Doornen1,
  5. J W J Bijlsma2
  1. 1Department of Health Psychology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr H van Middendorp
    Department of Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, PO Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands;


Objectives: To examine whether emotion regulation predicts change of perceived health in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: Sixty six patients (44 female, 22 male; mean (SD) age 57.7 (11.6) years) participated in a prospective study. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to predict change of perceived health between study entry and follow up (1½ years later) from the emotion regulation styles ambiguity, control, orientation, and expression at study entry.

Results: Valuing and intensely experiencing emotions (emotional orientation) predicted a decrease of positive affect. Difficulty recognising and expressing emotions (ambiguity) predicted an increase of perceived disease activity. Emotion regulation showed no associations with change of negative affect and social and physical functioning.

Conclusions: Two styles of emotion regulation were shown to have a significant though modest role in the prediction of perceived health change in patients with RA. This suggests that the monitoring of emotion regulation may help to identify patients who are at risk for a reduction of perceived health. If our findings were confirmed by experimental research, improving emotion regulation skills might favourably affect perceived health.

  • DAS28, 28 joint count Disease Activity Score
  • RA, rheumatoid arthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • psychology
  • emotion regulation
  • health
  • alexithymia

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