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Poor People Who Suffer From Arthritis More Prone to Depression

According to a study appearing in the February issue of Arthritis Care & Research, patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and are of lower socioeconomic statuses are more prone to depression.

“If two patients have the same amount of functional limitation [for instance, difficulty tying their shoes or combing their hair] but one patient is less educated and has less income, that patient will have more depression than another patient that has higher socioeconomic factors,” explains lead study author Mary Margaretten, MD.

In order to come to their conclusions, researchers analyzed information from over 800 medical appointments involving 466 patients. Nearly half of the patients went to an urban public hospital while the other half went to a university medical center. Despite the different locations, the same doctors treated patients at both sites.

When compared to patients who went to the university hospital, the patients of the public hospital were less educated, poorer and had less access to good health care. They also happened to show more symptoms of depression.

“It’s not just that socioeconomic status and disability leads to depression. It’s the combination of the two,” Dr. Margaretten says.

Leigh Callahan, PhD, had this to say regarding the findings of the study:

“It’s another study that reinforces the importance of recognizing the impact socioeconomic status has on both health outcomes and depression,” Callahan says.

“For the doctors it highlights, if they see someone with low levels of socioeconomic status, they need to be thinking about the range of things that go on,” Callahan says. “It’s a matter of clueing in that there may be an even greater need for individuals with lower socioeconomic status to have supportive interventions.”

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