Purpose: This study aimed to explore the applicability of a previously derived model of what mattered most to people with arthritis across a number of different disabling conditions.
Method: A qualitative study using interviews with 30 participants from three out-patient groups (rheumatoid arthritis, stroke and chronic pain) was conducted. Participants were asked to identify and discuss the most important consequences of living with their condition. Narratives were explored for similarities and differences within and across conditions.
Results: While diagnostically related differences were clearly evident, particularly in categories within the Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Future Issues themes, a marked level of similarity in view was apparent in two themes, Taking Charge and Perceptions of Normality.
Conclusions: The study identified a shared perspective about a number of issues, but also detailed where there were differences. We suggest explicit consideration of the themes highlighted in this research, and a deeper understanding of the inter-relatedness of seemingly separate issues will help health professionals and researchers re-think ways of working with people who have disabling conditions, and identify different factors to address in measuring the success of rehabilitation.