Rheumatoid arthritis patients take to Reddit for mental health support


November 27, 2020 (Vancouver) – According to a new Arthritis Research Canada study, rheumatoid arthritis patients are turning to Reddit – a popular social media platform – to discuss their mental health.

Researchers examined a total of 81 threads from two popular discussion boards on the platform (r/Thritis and r/Rheumatoid). They discovered people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are using Reddit to talk about how managing their disease affects their mental health, relationships and social isolation, feelings of loss and emotional struggles.

“This research was motivated by growing recognition of the importance of acknowledging the psychological impacts of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as the physical,” said Dr. Mary De Vera, a Research Scientist of Pharmacoepidemiology at Arthritis Research Canada.

Online forums and communities, such as Reddit, have created opportunities for individuals with RA to share experiences on mental health matters, which they may not necessarily be able to share with other people in their personal lives.

This research is important because studies directly investigating the broader concept of mental health in individuals with RA are limited. Internet-based communities and online forums where patients discuss mental health experiences, seek advice, and receive peer-to-peer support may represent an authentic source of data for informing questions about the impacts of RA on mental health.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common autoimmune arthritis, affecting approximately 0.3 to 1.0 per cent of the population globally. It is characterized by inflammation of the joints, causing pain and potential joint damage, and can affect other organ tissues as well.

“Mental health complications are common in arthritis patients,” De Vera said, “These findings shed light on the importance of establishing practical recommendations to guide healthcare within rheumatology for patients struggling with this autoimmune disease.”

To read the full research article, please click here.


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* This research is funded by the Arthritis Society (#SOG-18-0192).

ABOUT ARTHRITIS RESEARCH CANADA: Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose world recognized research is creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is conducting research across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and is affiliated with five major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, and McGill University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: 

Heather Caulder

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

604-207-4010 or hcaulder@arthritisresearch.ca


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