Effect of coping strategies on patient and physician perceptions of disease severity and disability in systemic sclerosis

Dana D DiRenzo, Theresa R Smith, Tracy M Frech, Ami A Shah, John D Pauling

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Objective. Systemic sclerosis (SSc) results in impaired function, disability, and reduced health-related quality of life. We investigated the effect of coping strategies on the patient global assessment of health (PtGA) and Health Assessment Questionnaire–Disability Index (HAQ-DI), after controlling for clinical characteristics and disease activity. We also explored the relationship between coping strategies and the correlation between the PtGA and physician global assessment (PGA) in SSc. Methods. We undertook posthoc analyses using baseline data obtained from the Raynaud Symptom Study (RSS). The PtGA, Coping Strategies Questionnaire, Pain Catastrophizing Scale, and Scleroderma Health Assessment Questionnaire were collected alongside the PGA, clinical characteristics, and patient demographics. Multivariable linear regression models and correlations were used to evaluate the relationship between coping strategies with the PtGA, HAQ-DI, and PGA. Results. Of the 107 patients with SSc enrolled in the RSS, there were sufficient data available for the analysis of 91 participants. The mean PtGA was 40/100 (SD 27) and the mean HAQ-DI was 0.87/3.0 (SD 0.73). After controlling for clinical and patient demographics, pain catastrophizing and maladaptive coping skills were significantly associated with the PtGA and HAQ-DI scores (P < 0.05 for both), but not the PGA. Conclusion. The effect of coping strategies on PtGA and HAQ-DI (but not PGA in SSc) could influence the result of composite measures incorporating these outcome measures. Interventions to improve patient coping skills may support increased resilience and improve patient-perceived functional status and PtGA in SSc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569 - 1573
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Rheumatology
Issue number10
Early online date1 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Coping
  • Disability
  • Pain
  • Quality of life
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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