Being an outpatient with rheumatoid arthritis--a focus group study on patients' self-efficacy and experiences from participation in a short course and one of three different outpatient settings

Scand J Caring Sci. 2011 Jun;25(2):394-403. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2010.00854.x. Epub 2010 Dec 23.


Background: A Danish study compared three different outpatient settings for persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). All participants completed a short course before random allocation to one of three groups. A third of the patients continued with planned medical consultations. A third was allocated to a shared care setting with no planned consultations. The final third was allocated for planned nursing consultations every 3 months. Little knowledge exists of patients' experiences at different outpatient settings.

Aims: (1) To explore the patients' experiences of participation in the course and one of the three different outpatient settings and (2) to explore whether some of these experiences can explain possible changes in self-efficacy beliefs.

Method: In total six focus group interviews were carried out with 33 participants from the three settings. The interviews and the analysis were inspired by phenomenological philosophy.

Results: On the short course the participants felt understood, gained new insights and some changed behaviours after attendance. Important themes in experiences from the three outpatient settings were: (1) continuity and relationships with health professionals, (2) a need for others to take control, and (3) contact with health professionals. SPECIFIC FINDINGS: The nursing consultations were experienced as less factual and less authoritarian than the medical consultations. The participants in the shared care setting had a lack of confidence in the GP's competence to manage their RA. However, they felt responsible for taking action in case of a flare up. The study provided opportunities to enhance the participants' self-efficacy beliefs.

Conclusion: When planning follow-up care, the focus needs to be on continuity, the interpersonal relationship and easy access to health professionals with thorough knowledge of RA. A short course and consultations with nurses and hospital doctors can enhance patients' self-efficacy and thereby strengthen their confidence to assess and manage their own disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy
  • Denmark
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Outpatients*
  • Self Efficacy*