Background It has been a tradition in Norway to admit patients with rheumatic diseases (RMDs) to rehabilitation in a warm climate for periods of 3- 4 weeks. Young adults with RMDs have to deal with life challenges such as; relating to friends, family and partners, education, establish a family, adjusting to working life, and handling physical and emotional changes, in addition to coping with their RMD. Since young adults may have different challenges and needs than older adults, we developed a 17 day intensive rehabilitation programme aimed at this age group. Two pilot groups with a total of 15 young adults with RMDs age 18–35 participated. The main interventions were intensive exercise (2–3/day), individual physiotherapy (daily), individual treatment plans, group interventions (daily) and patient education (daily). Climatotherapy was also a part of the intervention.
Objectives The aim of this study was to describe the perceptions and experiences of young patients with participating in a 17 day intensive warm climate rehabilitation program that was targeted, organized and adjusted to their age group.
Methods In order to capture the patients' own experiences and perceptions of the rehabilitation program, a focus group interview was conducted six months after the end of the intervention (3 females, 2 men, age 27 - 35 years, disease duration 2 - 13 years, diagnosis: Juvenile Arthritis (1), Rheumatoid Arthritis (1) and Spondyloarthropathy (3)). The interview focused on topics related to the rehabilitation program, such as content and organization, confidence in the staffs' competence, possible effects on health and everyday life, significance of meeting other young adults, satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the programme and feasible negative aspects related to the intervention. Qualitative content analyses were used to make abstractions and categories.
Results The identified themes were “shared understanding”, “length of program”, “changes in daily life routine“, “high intensity” and “competence of healthcare providers'. Shared understanding of their life situation with the other group members was seen as an important component in the program. Sharing knowledge and personal experience with others who are in similar phases in life enhances learning was seen as a useful and positive way of providing self-management. Due to their phases of life, all the participants said that the length of the program was perfect. They could not have attended a traditionally four week program. The intensity of the exercise was higher than traditionally programs and suited the group. After the program they had made changes to their daily life routine both in exercise and diet, but they would like a form of organized follow up from a health care provider. All agreed that the physiotherapists provided an individual program with high intensity and adjusted programme suitable for the young group.
Conclusions This qualitative study suggests that patients experience that their needs were met in this targeted rehabilitation program. The patients reported that the length and intensity of the program and being with others in the same phase of life seemed to enhance motivation and have positive effect on self-management. Further research is needed to document the long term effect of the program.
Disclosure of Interest None declared