Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)


School of Social Work

Degree Name


First Advisor

Lloyd Yarborough


Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints of the body. The term refers to all conditions that causes stiffness, swelling, sore ness, or pain in the joints. There are many types of arthritis. Some are caused by infection, some by injury, some by aging, and some by entirely unknown causes.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a connective disorder beginning before puberty. It rarely begins before six months of age, and is slightly more common in girls than in boys. This disease has also been classified as a psychosomatic disorder. The incidence of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is not known. The etilogy is unknown. The roles of infectious, traumatic, psychologic, immunologic, and heredity factors are uncertain.

Since so much is unknown or uncertain about this chronic disease, the researcher would like to explore one area of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The area would consist of how psyche and soma are related in the functioning or disfunctioning of children with this disease.

This study has two major purposes. They are as follows: (1) To ascertain if a termination of a relationship through (a) death of a parent, grandparent or sibling, (b) death of a parent wherein a parent remarries, (c) illness of a parent or sibling, (d) a disaster e.g. fire, (e) unemployment of a parent and insufficient income for the family are factors in the onset of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. (2) To seek out other common factors in the cases studied which are precipitating factors in the onset of the disease. Such as: (a) the family incidence or heredity, (b) an overly close mother-child relationship, and (c) severe deprivation early in the mother's life.

The Social Service Department at Children's Seashore House studies the medical and social aspects of each patient admitted to the hospital through the utilization of the Ross Interview. The Ross Interview is used because of the detailed social and developmental history obtained in reference to the client. Therefore, all of the information desired pertaining to this study was obtained chiefly from the case records. The study was based on reading 34 case records from the period 1965-66, and abstracting from them the required data. After reading the 34 case records, it was found that there were only 5 comprehensive social histories. However, the remaining 29 cases had several factors in common. Thus, making them also important in this study.

An analysis and interpretation of the data revealed that:

(A) The greatest percentage of the children experienced their clinical onset of the disease between the ages of 6 and 10.

(B) It was revealed that in a sample of 34- children ( 13 boys and 21 girls), there were six cases or IS per cent in which the factor of loss was a precipitating factor in the onset of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

(G) There were five cases of childhood injuries in the sample which showed no apparent loss or emotional factor before the onset of the disease.

(D) The dominant personality characteristics of the mothers of the patients was also revealed in the study. The most dominant characteristic of the mothers in this sample was seen as extremely self-sacrificing.

(E) There is need in the area of future research to clarify the role that the father plays in the life of the arthritic child.

(F) There is a need to clarify the correlation of childhood injuries to the onset of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Included in

Social Work Commons