Background Patient education (PE) is “a planned, interactive process between patients and health professionals, aimed at supporting and enabling patients to manage their life with arthritis and optimizing their health and well-being”. PE is considered an integral part of the management of inflammatory arthritis (IA)(1). As the preliminary recommendations from the EULAR task force says: All people with IA should have access to and be offered PE throughout the course of their disease including as a minimum, at diagnosis, at pharmacological treatment change and when required by patient's physical or psychological condition. When a woman with a rheumatic disease becomes a mother, it often includes a lot of new challenges in coping with both her chronic disease and her new role as a mother.
Objectives To develop a PE program adapted to this group of patients and their needs in a new phase of life. The purpose is to support and enable the patients to cope with the new challenges being a new mother when having a rheumatic disease, and facilitate networking with other women in similar life situations.
Methods 6 participants with different rheumatic diseases who had recently given birth were recruited from the rheumatology unit at St. Olavs Hospital. The group sessions were led by a midwife who is specialized in rheumatology. 4 meetings were held with about 3 week's interval. Meetings were held in a suitable meeting room at St. Olavs Hospital. Each session lasted about two hours.
The meeting had the following themes: 1. Everyday life, practical challenges and questions with an occupational therapist. 2. Exercise and diet with an exercise instructor and nurse. 3. Relationships and sexuality with midwife. 4. Laws and rights with a social worker. 5. A follow-up meeting is scheduled about 4 months after the group ended. To quality assure and evaluate the project we conducted a focus group interview at the end of the fourth session.
Results The main results from the interview, and what the group participants identified as most important for them when were: “meet people in the same situation and share experiences”, “a place where you can discuss illness and be met with understanding”, “nice with meetings during daytime also with the baby included”, “they wanted more meetings, because they felt it was easier to discuss difficult themes when they had become better acquainted”, “they suggested that also their partners could have benefited information about their conditions from health professionals”.
Conclusions The participants from the first group expressed that they felt the group had been beneficial and useful. We will continue to further develop and evaluate the concept.
Task Force definition of patient education, EULAR recommendations/points to consider for patient education of people with inflammatory arthritis. Amsterdam, July 2013. Stamm T, Hill J.
Disclosure of Interest None declared