Rheumatoid arthritis patient education: RA patients' experience

J Clin Nurs. 2009 Jul;18(14):2058-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02763.x.


Aim and objective: The purpose of this paper is to describe the content of patient education as portrayed and evaluated by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.

Background: Rheumatology nurses have an important role in educating and supporting RA patients. However, there is a lack of knowledge of the RA patients' own perspective of patient education.

Design: Survey.

Method: Data for this study were collected from 173 RA patients from 11 hospitals and 23 health centers using open-ended questions. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of the patients described the content of patient education and eighty-one percent (81%) evaluated it expressing their experience and satisfaction with it. Data were analysed using descriptive and non-parametric statistical tests.

Results: Rheumatology nurses mostly gave their RA patients information about how to use the anti-rheumatic drugs prescribed to them (26%). About half (51%) of the patients were satisfied with patient education. However, every fourth patient (24%) was not satisfied, the main reason for the dissatisfaction being that nurses did not focus on the patient's emotional support. The patients of over 57 years of age and those who had suffered from RA for over five years were more satisfied with their education than the others.

Conclusions: It is important that rheumatology nurses, besides passing on medical treatment-related information, concentrate on RA patients' emotional well-being.

Relevance to clinical practice: The results provide a useful insight into RA patient education. Nurses should avoid merely passing on information in a routine workmanlike way. It is important that they take time to discuss their patients' feelings and worries especially with newly diagnosed patients. RA patient education should balance patients' information needs with their need for emotional support.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires