Background: Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) represents the most common inflammatory rheumatism of childhood. Because of a prolonged course of active disease, many patients experience physical and psychosocial limitations. Illness perceptions involve the personal beliefs that patients have about their illness and may influence health behaviors considerably.
Objectives: The present study aimed to investigate the illness perception of patients with JIA.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study including children with JIA (according to the International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR)). We recorded sociodemographic data and the subtype of the JIA. To assess a child’s perception of how arthritis affects their life, the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ) was completed by the parent (child age ≤10 years) or by the child (age ≥11 years). The Brief IPQ is a nine-item questionnaire rated using a 0-to10 response scale that assesses cognitive illness representations: consequences (Item 1), timeline (Item 2), personal control (Item 3), treatment control (Item 4), and identity (Item 5). Two of the items assess emotional representations: concern (Item 6) and emotions (Item 8). One item assesses illness comprehensibility (Item 7).
Results: The study included 22 patients. The mean age was 15 ± 7 years [4-35], and the mean age at diagnosis was 9 ±3 years [3-14]. There was a female predominance (sex ratio= 2.1). The frequency of each JIA subset was at follows: polyarticular with rheumatoid factor (n= 1), polyarticular without rheumatoid factor (n=3), systemic (n= 2), enthesitis-related arthritis (n=9), oligoarthritis (n= 7), undifferentiated (n=1). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were prescribed in 72% of cases, and Cs-DMARDs in 59% of patients. The most-reported causal factor in their illness was a history of traumatism (22%). Perceiving symptoms (identity) were significantly related to being affected by the disease (emotional response) (p= 0.01). Conversely, patients who had personal and treatment control expressed less emotional response (r = −0.7, r=-0.2 respectively). Moreover, those who were concerned about the disease perceived more the consequences of their illness (p=0.09) and understood it more (p=0.029). We also noted significant correlations between personal control and treatment control (p = 0.033). A positive correlation was found between identity as well as consequences and timeline (p=0.011, p=0.024), showing that the perception of chronicity was associated with pain and the burden of the disease.
Conclusion: Our study highlighted the importance of assessing illness perception in JIA patients. Patient education programs should be implemented since diagnosis for better disease management.
Disclosure of Interests: None declared
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