Everyday life with rheumatoid arthritis and implications for patient education and clinical practice: a focus group study

Musculoskeletal Care. 2012 Mar;10(1):29-38. doi: 10.1002/msc.224. Epub 2011 Dec 26.


Objectives: This study aimed to explore how everyday life is affected by rheumatoid arthritis (RA), in order to inform patient education and clinical practice and generate further research.

Methods: Six focus group interviews were conducted with, in total, 32 participants. Interview data were analysed using content analysis methods.

Results: The study showed that RA affected almost every aspect of participants' everyday lives, particularly self-identity, social relationships, work and relationships with health and social care professionals. A small number of the participants did not have these experiences, due to receiving fast diagnosis and effective medical treatment.

Conclusion: The findings point to a need to increase knowledge about RA, support symptom management and reduce the physical, social and psychological challenges posed by RA in everyday life. An individualized and engaged approach to patient education, taking the individual experiences as the point of departure, is suggested. The results indicate directions for further research. The general implications for patient education that emerge from this study might not address the support needs of those who did not experience significant changes in everyday life. A more detailed and in-depth understanding about living with RA in the first years after diagnosis would provide a valuable supplement to the many retrospective studies, and useful knowledge in the design of patient education tailored to those who are newly diagnosed with RA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Time Factors