OBJECTIVE - This study examined the relationship of gender and psychological well-being (PWB) in community-dwelling persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
METHOD - Data from the first wave of two longitudinal panel studies of persons with RA were examined (93 men and 276 women in panel 1; 60 men and 147 women in panel 2). Subjects completed self-report questionnaires on behavioral aspects of RA. Psychological well-being was assessed in both panels by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, using its 4 subcomponents, including positive and negative affect. Panel 2 had additional measures of PWB, namely the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and the Satisfaction With Life Scale. Potential explanatory variables were then examined in an attempt to account for the observed gender differences.
RESULTS - Gender differences were found for negative indicators of PWB, while positive indicators of PWB showed no significant differences by gender. As with other community samples, women reported higher levels of depressive symptoms and negative mood than men. Quality of emotional support, passive pain coping, and physical functional impairment could only partially explain the observed gender differences in this study.
CONCLUSION - The relationship of gender to negative indicators of PWB cannot easily be diminished or dismissed. The mechanisms by which gender differentially affects PWB need to be further explored in order to intervene appropriately to help men and women with RA achieve an optimal quality of life.