Author(s): Gutweniger S, Kopp M, Mur E, Gnther V
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: Physical disabilities generally cause severe disturbances in a patient's body image perception. The aim of the present study was to investigate different aspects of body image, including sexual dissatisfaction, in women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in relation to their subjective impression of handicap. METHODS: Forty women with RA were investigated using a series of instruments: Strauss and Appelt's questionnaire for assessing one's body (1), the body perception scale of Paulus (2), and an interview focusing on appearance, worries about health and sickness, and sexual dissatisfaction. In addition, clinical parameters and the subjective extent of morning stiffness were documented, and patients with a high degree of morning stiffness were compared to patients with a low degree of morning stiffness. RESULTS: In contrast to patients with a low degree of morning stiffness, patients with a high degree of morning stiffness worried significantly more about their bodies (p < or = 0.05) and reported significantly more problems in sexuality (p < or = 0.05). CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that morning stiffness plays a very important role in how severely a woman feels herself to be handicapped. Severely handicapped women have to deal with anxieties about health and have sexual problems. Physicians should not shy away from addressing these issues and in severe cases psychological therapy should be initiated.
This article was published in Clin Exp Rheumatol
and referenced in International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation