Predictors of perceived risk in first-degree relatives of patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Sarah Bunnewell, Imogen Wells, PhD Dawit T. Zemedikun, Gwenda Simons, Christian D. Mallen, Karim Raza, Marie Falahee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives To define variables associated with perceived risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in first-degree relatives (FDRs) of patients with RA.Methods Patients with RA and their FDRs were invited to complete cross-sectional surveys. FDR and index patient responses were linked. FDRs’ perceived absolute risk, comparative risk, experiential risk and worry about risk were assessed using 5-point Likert scales. FDR predictor variables included demographics, illness perceptions and psychosocial variables. Patient predictors of FDR perceived risk were assessed. Binary logistic regression examined the relationship between FDR characteristics and perceived risk of RA. Generalised estimating equations assessed whether patient variables predicted FDR’s perceived risk.Results 396 FDRs returned a survey. 395 FDRs provided sufficient data and were included in analysis. Paired data from 213 patients were available for 291 of these FDRs. All measures of perceived risk were inter-correlated. 65.2% of FDRs perceived themselves to be ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to develop RA in their lifetime. Relationship with index patient, high health anxiety, female gender, long perceived RA duration, high perceived concern about RA, negative perceived emotional impact of RA and low perceptions of how well treatment would control RA were all associated with increased FDRs’ perceived risk. Patient characteristics did not associate with FDRs’ risk perceptions.Conclusions FDRs’ perceived risk of RA was high. Key predictors included being a child of a patient with RA, higher health anxiety and lower perceptions of RA treatment control. An understanding of these predictors will inform the development of tailored risk communication resources and preventive clinical strategies for RA.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere002606
JournalRMD Open
Issue number2
Early online date5 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


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