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The psychological impact of arthritis: the effects of illness perception and coping.BACKGROUND: Coping and illness perception are considered to be important contributors in the relationship between physical and psychological factors in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). AIMS: The aim of this study was to examine the complex relationship of coping and illness perception on physical and psychological factors in RA using a structural model. METHODS: We assessed coping, illness perception, depression, anxiety, pain, arthritis-related disability and perceived social support in 68 adults with RA. RESULTS: Greater pain was detected in patients with increased scores on passive coping scale, greater severity of physical disability and increased depression and anxiety. Illness perception was found to be a mediator in the relationship between physical disability and passive coping on one hand and depression, anxiety and pain on the other. CONCLUSIONS: The hypothesised structural model has proven to be a useful paradigm for understanding the associations between multiple factors in RA presentation: clinical, emotional, personal and cognitive.