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The factor structure of the Arthritis Helplessness Index (AHI) was examined using principal components factor analysis with varimax rotation. Data for the initial factor analysis came from a longitudinal study of 368 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Two slightly negatively correlated (r = -0.21) subscales emerged: internality and helplessness. This analysis was cross-validated twice. Findings reveal that the 2 subscales of the AHI are more reliable and valid than the total score. The 5 item helplessness subscale, in particular, appears to be a highly valid indicator of the degree to which patients with RA feel overwhelmed by their disease.
Using data from 3 studies of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, we examined the extent to which responses to items in the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) are influenced by aspects of the disease process other than depression. Our findings suggested that 4 CES-D items (i.e., "I felt that everything I did was an effort," "I felt hopeful about the future," "My sleep was restless," and "I could not get going") may be influenced by aspects of the disease process and, thus, are not necessarily indicative of depression among persons with arthritis. The impact that these items have on the interpretation of CES-D scores was assessed in relation to 2 research issues: estimation of the prevalence and severity of depression in arthritis populations and identification of the determinants of depression among individuals with arthritis. Our results suggest that the original CES-D may overestimate the prevalence and severity of depression among patients with arthritis. The magnitude of this bias is modest, however. The results also suggest that in studies designed to identify the determinants of depression among individuals with arthritis, inclusion of the 4 items identified is unlikely to have any effect on study findings.