Objective: To obtain understanding of how patients with rheumatic diseases experienced participation in an emotion-focused group intervention in terms of influences on their emotional well-being and coping behavior and the processes whereby these influences arose.
Methods: The intervention, Vitality Training (VTP), was conducted in 10 group sessions over 4 months. Qualitative data were collected from 10 focus group interviews (n=69) two weeks after the intervention. Data were analyzed with a qualitative content analysis approach.
Results: Five categories were identified from the analyses: (1) recognizing oneself as both ill and healthy, (2) recognizing own emotions, (3) awareness of own needs, (4) being part of a community and (5) being recognized as a credible patient.
Conclusion: The VTP addressed participants' awareness of emotional and bodily reactions in a process-oriented and supportive group. The program had enhanced participants' recognition of their disease-related emotions and helped them to more actively relate to their own needs.
Practical implications: This study has highlighted how a process-oriented group intervention that combines topics related to life, rather than disease, and learning methods that enhance emotional awareness and adaptive emotional expression can enhance emotional well-being and coping behavior in patients with rheumatic diseases.
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