Illness self-schemas in depressed and nondepressed rheumatoid arthritis patients

Philip A. Clemmey, Perry M. Nicassio

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39 Scopus citations


This study examined the hypothesized illness self-schema construct in persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Biases in self-description, information processing and schema-consistent illness behavior were examined in depressed and nondepressed persons with RA and compared with those of depressed and nondepressed controls. Major findings revealed that RA- depressed subjects exhibited pervasively negative self-description and biased processing of negative illness-related information. RA-nondepressed subjects demonstrated a bias for positive self-description and enhanced processing of positive illness-related information. Using regression analysis, the illness self-schema construct predicted unique variance in self-reported functional disability. Findings are reviewed in the context of previous research on self-schemas, chronic pain, and cognitive variables in chronic illness. Potential clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed. The illness self-schema construct has significant heuristic value which could guide further research on the psychosocial adjustment of individuals with chronic illnesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-290
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Illness behavior
  • Illness cognition
  • Self-schemas


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