Healthy Living

More Than Bones: Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Mental Health

RA patients with poor mental health are more likely to experience flare-ups

According to researchers from King’s College London, patients with RA who experience poor mental health are more likely to experience flare-ups.

In the study, the researchers assessed multiple clinical factors, including mental health, in individuals with RA. They found that the Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28), a system developed by the European League Against Rheumatism to assess the progress and improvement of RA, showed a greater risk of flare-ups among those with mental health issues. The researchers reported that the DAS28 can also be influenced by psychosocial and other factors, including tiredness and pain. “Disease activity-guided dose tapering or discontinuation of anti-TNF therapy appears to be feasible, safe, and effective in a selected proportion of patients with RA,” wrote Katie Beckman and fellow colleagues. However, up to two-thirds of patients experienced disease flare-ups when attempting this, thus heightening concerns over potential joint damage and loss of function.

While no markers have been able to predict which individuals might experience flare-ups, it has been found that mental health can contribute because of its potential impact on symptoms, medication adherence, as well as self-management. Due to the fact that no studies have analyzed the role of mental health on flare risk, Bechman and fellow colleagues decided to evaluate the outcomes from the Optimizing TNF Tapering in RA.