Social Support Among Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Daily Progress Study

Because there is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), treatment focuses on alleviating pain symptoms and maintaining function. With that in mind, Susan Holtzman studied the links between pain levels, stress, ways of coping and social supports in patients with RA. The few existing studies in this area indicated that patients with strong social supports experience less pain and disability, but Susan wanted to examine this more closely. In her study she used daily monitoring techniques and collected detailed data from patients and their spouses. Susan used an advanced modelling technique to analyse the findings and concluded that social support decreased pain levels by encouraging and improving coping strategies. Findings from this study highlight the importance of social support. The research may ultimately lead to the development of psychologically-based treatment and individually-tailored pain management for patients with RA.