"Striving for a good life" - the management of rheumatoid arthritis as experienced by patients

Open Nurs J. 2011;5:95-101. doi: 10.2174/1874434601105010095. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


Aim: To generate a theoretical model how patients experience their management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in everyday life.

Method: An explorative design with the grounded theory approach was used by interviewing 16 informants with RA.

Results: The generated theoretical model emerged in a core category- Striving for a good life with two categories; making use of personal resources and grasping for support from others, which formed the base of managing RA. When relating these categories together, four dimensions emerged which characterised patients' different ways of managing RA: mastering, relying, struggling and being resigned.

Discussion: The management of RA incorporated the use of personal resources and the grasping for support from others. Both self-management strategies and patients' need of support were highlighted as aspects that were of importance when managing RA. Patients' experiences of their need of support to manage RA give extended knowledge that is of importance for nurses and other healthcare providers. The relationship between patients and healthcare providers is always the key to a good encounter. Interventions to increase self-management in RA have to incorporate this knowledge when trying to increase patients' self-efficacy and with their experience of support.

Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis; chronic disease.; grounded theory; patient perspective.