Living with scleroderma: patients' perspectives, a phenomenological study

Rheumatol Int. 2012 Nov;32(11):3573-9. doi: 10.1007/s00296-011-2230-2. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


In this study, it is aimed to determine the daily life experiences of patients on the basis their own way of statement. Sixteen patients with scleroderma were enrolled to this qualitative study. Data were collected using both a demographic data form and a semi-structured interview form. Study was made on individual patient interview by face-to-face manner. Data were evaluated using Colaizzi's phenomenological data analysis method. Data analysis revealed four categories and nine topics. These categories were (1) physical impact of disease, (2) emotional impact of disease, (3) social impact of disease and (4) patient behaviours for the cope with the disease. As emotional impact, patients imply that they have experienced disappointment, hope to get well and have fears about the future. In the physical impact category, tight skin, limitations of hand skills, swelling of the hands and feet, fatigue, swallowing difficulties and deformation of their bodies were the prominent features. In patients with recognizable disease, difficulty to join to social activities increases and eventually leads to isolation. There was also some evidence that patients who have been supported by their family and close relatives seem to be more optimistic about their disease. Most patients are not willing to communicate with other patients, particularly in an advanced stage. Scleroderma patients imply that they experience several difficulties regarding emotional, physical and social aspects. Individual abilities to cope with the disease were much more improved among patients who have a sustained social support. For advanced patients with apparent deformations, an effective social support system should be introduced.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires