OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to examine quality of life (QOL) in American Indian and White women with and without rheumatoid arthritis.

METHOD. This cross-sectional study included 64 women in four groups: American Indians with rheumatoid arthritis, healthy American Indians, Whites with rheumatoid arthritis, and healthy Whites. Participants received evaluations of pain, joint motion, hand function, daily task performance, community participation, and QOL.

RESULTS. There was a significant difference in QOL between the participants with rheumatoid arthritis and the healthy control groups but not between the American Indian and White groups. Current health and emotional–social function related to QOL in all groups. Dexterity also correlated with QOL in the two groups with rheumatoid arthritis. Performance of daily activities correlated with QOL in all groups except the healthy White groups. Community participation did not correlate with QOL.

CONCLUSIONS. The findings suggest that rheumatoid arthritis in American Indian and White women does affect QOL and that QOL does not seem to be influenced by ethnicity. Factors that related to QOL also were similar for both groups with rheumatoid arthritis.

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