Objectives: To determine if depressive symptoms assessed near diagnosis associate with future measures of pain, disability and disease for adolescent patients diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
Methods: Data were analysed from JIA patients aged 11-16 years recruited to the Childhood Arthritis Prospective Study, a UK-based inception cohort of childhood-onset arthritis. Depressive symptoms (using the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ)), active and limited joint count, disability score (Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire), pain visual analogue scale (VAS), and patient’s general evaluation (PGE) VAS were collected. Associations between baseline measures (first visit to paediatric rheumatologist) were analysed using multiple linear regression. Linear mixed-effect models for change in the clinical measures of disease over 48 months were estimated including MFQ as an explanatory variable.
Results: Data from 102 patients were analysed. At baseline, median age was 13.2 years (IQR 11.9-14.2 years) and 14.7% scored over the MFQ cut-off for major depressive disorder. At baseline, depressive symptoms significantly associated with all clinical measures of disease (p≤0.01). High baseline depressive symptoms scores predicted worse pain (p≤0.005) and disability (p≤0.001) 12 months later but not active and limited joint counts.
Conclusions: Adolescent patients with JIA and depressive symptoms had more active joints, pain and disability at the time of their first specialist appointment. The associations between baseline depression and both pain and disability continued for at least one year, however, this was not the case for active joint count.