Interpersonal Stress, Depression, and Disease Activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis Patients

Alex J. Zautra, Mary Burleson, Kathy S. Matt, Sanford Roth, Lisa Burrows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

131 Scopus citations


The relationships among interpersonal stressors, depression, coping inefficacy, hormones (prolactin, cortisol, and estradiol), and disease activity were examined. The sample comprised 33 women with rheumatoid arthritis (RAs; age 37-78) and 37 women with osteoarthritis (OAs; age 47-91), who served as controls. In a regression analysis, interpersonal conflict events accounted for more than twice as much variance in depression in RAs than in OAs. In the RA patients, the immune-stimulating hormones prolactin and estradiol were significantly positively correlated with interpersonal conflicts, depression, coping inefficacy, and clinician ratings of disease activity, suggesting that RAs are more reactive to interpersonal stressors than are OAs, both psychologically and physiologically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1994



  • arthritis
  • depression
  • hormones
  • interpersonal stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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