Background Restrictions in participation in persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have been reported to be closely connected with more pain, fatigue and difficulties in performing daily activities. In addition, support and positive interactions with others have been considered important. We therefore need to understand how significant others of persons with RA can be facilitators or barriers, in participation in daily activities. This becomes of even greater importance in the sensitive and adapting phase of early RA.
Objectives To describe the meaning of significant others in relation to participation in daily activities in persons with early RA.
Methods This interview study is part of the multicenter project TIRA. Fifty-nine persons (58% women) participated. Inclusion criteria were a diagnosis of RA during three years and being in working age, <64 years of age. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using Critical Incidence Technique (CIT)  and the material was analyzed using content analysis . The study was approved by the Regional Ethics Committee.
Results Four categories were revealed: (1) Feelings and thoughts related to significant others, where participants would feel like being someone's burden, taking out aggression on others, and express anxiety about how relationships and activities would function in the future. (2) The importance of physical contact, referring to both the problematic and manageable impact RA could have on intimate life, as well as body contact in the form of hugging. (3) Getting the support you want, where participants distinguished getting help they had not asked for, from helping each other out. The first being experienced as degrading, and the latter as feeling more involved in the activity. (4) Adaption of daily activities, referring to how the person and significant others consciously modified their activities and activity choices when needed.
Conclusions Significant others can be either a barrier or facilitator for participation in daily activities, for persons with early RA. From a clinical point of view it is important to further involve significant others in the rehabilitation process, in order to enhance participation in daily activities for persons with RA.
Flanagan, C. The critical incidence technique. Psychol Bull 1954;51(4):327–58.
Graneheim, UH. & Lundman, B. Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Educ Today 2004;24(2): 105–12.
Disclosure of Interest None declared