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Body image in patients with ankylosing spondylitis

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2010 Vol.28, N°3
PI 0341, PF 0347
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PMID: 20460037 [PubMed]

Received: 09/10/2009
Accepted : 10/12/2009
In Press: 23/06/2010
Published: 23/06/2010


Physical disabilities generally cause disturbances in a patient`s body image. The aim of the present study is to assess the prevalence of different aspects of body image disturbances (attractiveness /self-confidence, negative body judgement, accentuation of external appearance, worry about possible physical deficits, sexual problems and physical vitality) in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in the context of the severity of impairment, mood and pain intensity.
Fifty-six patients with AS and 48 healthy controls were investigated using a questionnaire for assessing one`s body (1) and the body image questionnaire (2). Furthermore, in the AS patients` medical parameters including BASMI and BASFI, pain intensity and state of well-being were assessed.
In comparison to the controls, the AS patients reported significantly more worries about possible physical deficits. The mildly impaired patients (including significantly more women) were even more insecure than the severely impaired patients. Furthermore the patients considered themselves as being less attractive. The AS patients reported better physical vitality than the controls. This result might be due to patients carrying out regular physical activity and performing exercises with therapeutic value. There were no differences between the groups concerning sexual problems. The total group of AS patients showed normal scores in the state of well-being and did not report pain intensity as being higher than what is expected in chronic pain patients in general.
Rheumatologists should address problems in body image in patients with AS and in severe cases psychological therapy should be initiated.

Rheumatology Article