Systemic sclerosis is an autoimmune connective tissue disease with significant pain, fatigue, and disability. Patients with systemic sclerosis are at increased risk for psychiatric disorders.


This study assessed the personality and psychopathological characteristics of scleroderma patients.


Consecutive, in-patient female cases with systemic sclerosis (N=72) from the tertiary care center of the University of Pécs and age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers (N=56) and fifty patients with rheumatoid arthritis were enrolled. Participants completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. Demographical and clinical data were also collected.


Rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma patients had similar profiles with high scores (≥65T) on Scales 1, 2 and 3. Additionally, they achieved moderate scores on Scales 5 and 0. The Scale 7 was elevated only in females with rheumatoid arthritis distinctively.


High scores on Scales 1, 2 and 3 may reflect the severe somatic symptoms of systemic sclerosis (and rheumatoid arthritis), but may also refer to the disease-related emotional distress, anxiety and depression. Likewise, social withdrawal and less feminine interests may be the results of the chronic and disabling illness. The minor differences between the patient groups indicate that females with systemic sclerosis may be less vulnerable to specific anxiety disorders (obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias). Study results highlight the importance of developing psychosocial interventions designed to meet the needs of scleroderma patients.

Keywords: Systemic sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2), Depression, Anxiety, Hypochondriasis.
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