UNC researchers awarded $2.25 million to study link between arthritis, emotions

CHAPEL HILL - The National Institute of Mental Health has awarded a five-year, $2.25 million grant to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers who are studying links among osteoarthritis and anxiety and depression. What they find might help reduce the pain, loss of independence and reduced quality of life the bone and joint ailment often causes.

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, afflicts almost a million North Carolinians, more than 21 million people nationally and many adults over age 65, research shows.

Faculty members in UNCs schools of public health and medicine and department of psychology will conduct an investigation to learn about predictors and consequences of such links, which recent studies have shown to be more common and harmful than previously thought, said principal investigator Dr. Brenda M. DeVellis.

"Failure to consider the co-occurrence of either anxiety or depression with a medical illness like osteoarthritis can compromise diagnosis and treatment of patients as well as the health of the overall public, said DeVellis, professor of health behavior and health education as well as psychology.

Collaborating with her will be co-principal investigator Dr. Joanne Jordan, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology, and Dr. Robert DeVellis, research professor of health behavior and health education and of psychology. All are members of UNCs Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

Along with university colleagues, the three will draw on two previous waves of data collected as part of Jordans continuing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health-funded Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project. That research is the first and largest study ever done of arthritis in U.S. black and white rural communities. They also will conduct extensive new interviews with study participants at two different times.

A major goal will be to examine the relatio

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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