Objective: The aim of this study was to explore whether the concepts important to patients with hand OA are covered by the most commonly used instruments measuring functioning.
Method: A qualitative multi-centre study using focus group technique was performed in the following 5 European countries: Austria, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom. The qualitative data analysis followed a modified form of ‘meaning condensation’ and used the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as a theoretical framework. Finally, the concepts from the focus groups were compared to the content of the most commonly used instruments which had been identified in an earlier theoretical analysis.
Results: Fifty-six people (91% women, mean age 62.7 ± 7.9 years) with hand OA participated in the present study in two focus groups per centre. 63 concepts were extracted from the focus groups. Nineteen (30%) of all 63 concepts were covered by at least one instrument. Psychological consequences, different qualities of pain, aesthetic changes and leisure activities may represent important concepts from the focus groups which were found to be not covered by the instruments. The qualitative analysis revealed detailed descriptions of pain concerning sensations, levels and a certain relation to activity none of which were fully represented in the instruments routinely used.
Conclusion: It was possible to combine the concepts of the focus groups from each centre into a common qualitative analysis. The range of concepts important to the people with hand OA are not fully represented in the most commonly used instruments.