OBJECTIVE. We investigated quality of life (QOL) in American Indian women with different chronic diseases.

METHOD. Sixty American Indian women with diabetes mellitus (DM), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or both DM and RA (DM + RA), and healthy control women received evaluations of joint motion, hand strength dexterity, pain, activity and participation limitations and QOL.

RESULTS. The DM + RA and RA groups had significantly more pain, less joint motion, decreased hand strength, and more activity limitations. Participation was similar for all groups except the DM + RA group. Past and present QOL were similar; however, the DM + RA group reported significantly decreased future QOL.

CONCLUSION. Results suggest that the presence of more than one chronic disease affects activity and participation. Factors that related to QOL were different for each disease group, with the exception of pain. Identification of factors related to QOL can help occupational therapists identify areas for intervention.

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