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19-06-2016 | Comorbidities | Article

4. Psychological Factors in Arthritis: Cause or Consequence?

Author: PhD Melissa L. Harris

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


Chronic illness represents an ongoing public health challenge. Arthritis, in particular, is considered one of the most insidious and pervasive chronic conditions affecting older adults. Understanding the intersection between psychology and biology in arthritis has become a key priority for health professionals. Psychological factors (most notably depression) have been found to influence health-related quality of life, disease progression, and relapse as well as mortality in some chronic conditions. Importantly, psychological factors are also beginning to be considered in concert with traditional risk factors in disease development. This chapter will provide an overview of the change in perception regarding psychological factors and chronic disease. Attention will then be paid to describing the contribution of psychological factors (namely, depression and anxiety) in arthritis burden and their potential role in disease onset. A further focus will be to explore the mechanisms by which these psychological factors may influence arthritis, including dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, as well as directions for the future. As osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most prevalent forms, the following chapter will focus on research relating to these two conditions.

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