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Mind-Body Focus Can Improve Treatment, Outcomes in Rheumatic Disease

The Rheumatologist—April 15, 2015

Kimberly J. Retzlaff of The Rheumatologist reports that it’s not uncommon for patients with rheumatic disease to have mental and emotional reactions to their diagnosis and ongoing treatment. These psychological reactions can affect the patient physically in terms of disease progress, pain and overall quality of life.

In the rheumatologist's office, it's important to recognize emotional and mental responses to chronic disease. The rheumatologist can refer the patient for help and implement a multidisciplinary approach to help the patient cope. In learning to cope, the patient can see improvements in disease progression and quality of life, as well as accept responsibility for treatment and participate in decision making.

"Targeted interventions to identify and address depression and anxiety can have an important impact on outcomes," says Theodore Fields, MD, FACP, director, Rheumatology Faculty Practice Plan and professor of Clinical Medicine, at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), Weill College of Medicine of Cornell University, New York. 

Another strategy is to encourage patients to attend support groups. Support groups have been shown to positively affect the lives of patients recently diagnosed with RA, according to a study at HSS. The Early RA Support and Education group includes monthly lectures and peer discussion groups. Lectures are given by rheumatologists, nutritionists, physical therapists, surgeons and other specialists who can each offer their specific area of expertise on the management and treatment of RA. In the discussion groups, clinical social workers and rheumatology RNs co-facilitate to focus "on the unique stresses, psychosocial and educational needs of patients newly diagnosed with RA." explains Adena Batterman, MSW, LCSW, manager of RA Support and Education Programs, Department Social Work Programs, at HSS. Patients who attend these support groups have reported feeling more hopeful, better able to cope and more confident, and that RA doesn’t feel as disruptive to their lives.

This story originally appeared at the-rheumatologist.org. 


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