A Family’s Journey With Multiple Rheumatic Illnesses Inspires Research

A Family’s Journey With Multiple Rheumatic Illnesses Inspires Research

In 2006, the Ferguson family was thrown into a journey no parents imagine. Their star athlete, A-Student 16-year-old, all of a sudden was getting short of breath and her fingers were turning white. A few months into many doctors appointments, the diagnosis of systemic scleroderma, with a two-year life expectancy flipped their lives upside down.

Soon after, they found the Road Back Foundation (RBF) and Dr. Brown’s antibiotic therapy began. She was well within a few months and has gone on to compete as a college athlete, run marathons, and become a medical doctor.

Little did this family know, this would not be their only bout with rheumatic illness. A couple years later, Mr. Ferguson was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Quickly recognizing the symptoms, an appointment was made with an experienced Antibiotic Protocols (AP) rheumatologist. After only a few weeks of treatment, the severely painful RA symptoms vanished.

Due to her family’s experiences with rheumatic illnesses, Claire Ferguson, the younger of the two sisters, decided to conduct her doctoral dissertation research on the association between stress and RA. And, believe it or not, just as her dissertation was ready to be proposed, she was diagnosed with linear scleroderma (a different type from her older sister). This time the AP medications were started the same day the diagnoses was made and her recovery was remarkably swift.

Claire is now progressing into the research phase of her dissertation and would like to ask for help from the Road Back Foundation community by asking RA patients to complete a simple survey.


Greetings Road Back Community!

I am currently working on my dissertation research, titled, 

How Stress Can Impact Rheumatoid Arthritis” by conducting an online survey of RA patients. The purpose of this research is to examine the effects of chronic stress on the severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) symptoms.

There are literally thousands of published medical articles that document the association between RA and stress, and the potential benefits of mental health care and positive mental health self care practices.

I would like to invite those of you who meet the study criteria to participate. In order to meet the study criteria, you will need to:

~ Have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis

~ Be able to read and understand English

~ Be between the ages of 25 and 60

~ Currently reside in the United States

If you meet these criteria, I invite you to participate in a brief online survey that will take 15-20 minutes to complete. Some survey questions ask about experiences of stress. Answering these questions may cause feelings of stress.

All participation and responses will be anonymous (that is, no information that could identify your response will be collected) and all data collected from the survey will be kept confidential. Not even I, the primary researcher, will know the identity of the person completing the survey.

If you have any questions, please contact me at cferguson@alliant.edu. You can also contact my dissertation chair, Dr. Suni Petersen at spetersen@alliant.edu.

To participate in this study, please click the link below:

How Stress Can Impact Rheumatoid Arthritis

I believe that research such as this, which hopes to document the association and need for mental healthcare for people experiencing the challenges of RA will help the overall rheumatic disease community to have more comprehensive and coordinated care.

Thank you for your consideration and participation in my research to complete my dissertation.

Claire Ferguson