There is no cure for arthritis and patients, often face a
range of stressors such as adjusting to fluctuations in symptoms (e.g.
joint pain) and treatment (e.g. medication changes), engage in coping
strategies such as accessing medication-related information.
Arthritis patients were more likely to be high monitors (health
detail oriented) than high blunters (health detail avoidant) in a study
led by the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
Study findings suggest that the attentional coping styles of patients
with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) tend not to be
associated with self-management behaviors such as how often patients
have medication related discussions with their doctors and medication
‘Higher monitoring was associated with less information-receipt for arthritis patients, and higher blunting was associated with more information-receipt.’
The study was published online in The Open Rheumatology Journal
studies have assessed attentional coping style in a variety of acute
health contexts (e.g. cancer screening) and few studies have explored
coping styles among patients with chronic diseases (e.g. asthma and
multiple sclerosis), where stress is present but not always acute.
Findings tend to be consistent: when confronted with medical stressors,
monitors attend to and prefer more information, while blunters tend to
avoid and prefer less information.
"When we investigated the relationship between RA and OA patients'
attentional coping styles and behaviors related to medication
information we were surprised that we did not see results in accordance
with the characteristic patterns outlined in the acute and chronic
disease coping literature," said Lorie Geryk, postdoctoral fellow in the
Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy at Eshelman School of
Pharmacy and lead author of the study. "In fact, counter to expected
coping trends, we found that higher monitoring was associated with less
information-receipt for RA patients and among OA patients, higher
blunting was associated with more information-receipt."
More research is needed to better understand the long term
relationship between coping style and patient medication-related
behaviors in order to help clarify why and when health-relevant
information is likely to benefit arthritis patients.