Stressful life events' effects on rheumatoid arthritis disease activity

Phillip T. Potter, Alex J. Zautra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


A 53-year-old female rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient endured 2 unexpected family deaths during a 12-week study investigating the prospective relationships between stressful small life events, negative affect, and disease activity. Her disease went into temporary remission the same week as the deaths. She was identified as a case study participant, and weekly data collection was extended to 1 year. Clinical exams verified a large decrease in disease status immediately after the major losses. In addition to major events, negative affect and small events were found to serve as independent arthritis symptom predictors within this patient. Major events were associated with decreased symptoms. Negative affect and small events related to symptom increases. Subsequent between-subjects analyses conducted on 25 participants from the parent project probed for generalizability. The substantive findings from the case study were supported: Major life events and small life events functioned as opposing predictors of RA disease states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-323
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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