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Suicidal ideation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 18 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1290

Research may help identify patients at high risk

  1. Gareth J Treharne (, health psychology postgraduate research student,
  2. Antonia C Lyons (, lecturer in health psychology,
  3. George D Kitas (, consultant rheumatologist
  1. University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT
  2. John Connolly Unit, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham Trust, Middlesex UB1 3EU

    EDITOR—The finding of Carson et al — that depression associated with progressive physical (neurological) illness may lead to suicidal ideation — has important clinical implications and may be generalisable.1 Rheumatoid arthritis, the most prevalent chronic inflammatory musculoskeletal disease,2 has been associated with several negative psychological outcomes, including depression.3

    Our ongoing studies indicate that almost 11% of hospital outpatients with rheumatoid arthritis (13 out of 123; 95% confidence interval 5% to 16%) experience suicidal ideation, as detected by the Nottingham health profile.4

    At first glance, patients with longstanding disease (of more than four years' duration) seem more likely to report suicidal ideation (12%) than those with early rheumatoid arthritis (of less than two years' duration) (7%). Sex may also play a part, with 14% of female patients reporting suicidal ideation compared with only 3% of …

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