Factor Structure of the Arthritis Body Experience Scale (ABES) in a U.S. Population of People with Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Fibromyalgia (FM) and Other Rheumatic Conditions

J.E.A Boyington*, 1, 2, §, R DeVellis2, 3, J Shreffler2, B Schoster2, L.F Callahan2, 4, 5, 6
1 National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research, Bethesda, MD, USA
2 Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
3 Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
4 Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, UNC, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
5 Department of Orthopedics, UNC, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
6 Department of Social Medicine, UNC, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

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© Boyington et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the NIH/NINR, One Democracy Plaza, 6701 Democracy Blvd., Suite 710, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA; Tel: 301-594-2542; Fax: 301-480-8260; E-mail:
§ Dr. Boyington’s contribution to this article occurred in association with her tenure as a Research Associate/Epidemiologist at Shaw University and as a Diversity Research Investigator at Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent that of the National Institutes of Health or the United States Government.



To examine the psychometric properties of the Arthritis Body Experience Scale (ABES) in a US sample of people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other rheumatic conditions.


The ABES, with the scoring direction modified, was phone-administered to 937 individuals who self-identified as having one or more arthritis conditions based on a validated, US, national survey assessment tool. Descriptive statistics of demographic variables and factor analysis of scale items were conducted. Scale dimensionality was assessed using principal component analysis (PCA) with oblique rotation. Criteria for assessing factors were eigenvalues > 1, visual assessment of scree plot, and structure and pattern matrices.


The predominantly female (74.2%) and Caucasian (79.9%) sample had a mean age of 61.0 ± 13.1 years, and a mean BMI of 30.2 ± 7.1. Major arthritis conditions reported were rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. A three-factor structure with cronbach alpha values of .84, .85 and .53 was elicited, and accounted for 72% of the variance.


Compared to the two-factor structure evidenced by the original ABES scale in a sample of UK adults, the data from this sample evidenced a three-factor structure with higher variance. The third factor’s cronbach alpha of .53 was low and could be improved by the addition of salient questions derived from further qualitative interviews with patients with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions and from current literature findings.


The observed psychometrics indicate the scale usefully assesses body image in populations with arthritis and related conditions. However, further testing and refinement is needed to determine its utility in clinical and other settings.