Background As a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis greatly impacts patients' physical and psychosocial well-being.1 A recent integrative literature review2 showed that most of the studies on RA were conducted in Western contexts and limited studies have focused on exploring RA patients' experiences of negotiating the healthcare system, or their healthcare support needs, and none has been conducted in Singapore.
Objectives To explore the experiences and support needs of adult patients living with rheumatoid arthritis in Singapore.
Methods This was a descriptive qualitative study. Sixteen adults with rheumatoid arthritis for more than 6 months were recruited from a rheumatology clinic of a tertiary hospital in Singapore from October 2013 to January 2014. Individual face-to-face interviews were conducted to collect data using a semi-structured interview guide. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis.3
Results Five themes were identified: altered physical capacity and well-being, psychological and emotional challenges, changes in social life, coping strategies, and support received and further support needs. The participants experienced severe pain and fatigue, which caused them to struggle with daily activities. Negative emotions and psychological impacts were commonly reported, as were interruptions in their social and working life. While participants had received some social support and were coping with rheumatoid arthritis using various strategies, further social, professional and financial support, as well as easier access to health-care services, was desired.
Conclusions Physical and psychosocial challenges experienced by patients affected their daily and social activities. This study provided insights for healthcare professionals to understand the experiences and support needs of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in Singapore. The findings provide baseline data to develop future interventions that will enhance the quality of current health-care practices, and hence optimize the management of rheumatoid arthritis and improve patients' quality of life.
Kristiansen, T. M., Primdahl, J., Antoft, R., & Hørslev-Petersen, K. (2012). Everyday life with rheumatoid arthritis and implications for patient education and clinical practice: a focus group study. Musculoskeletal Care, 10(1), 29–38.
Poh, L.W., He, H.G., Lee, C.S.C., Cheung, P., & Chan, W.C.S. (In press). An integrative review of experiences of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. International Nursing Review.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.
Acknowledgements We appreciate the great support from the staff of the participating hospital and the participants for sharing their invaluable time and experiences with us.
Disclosure of Interest None declared