How patients with polyarthritis cope with the disease after attending an outpatient arthritis educational program: A qualitative study nested within a randomized controlled trial
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The aim of this qualitative study, nested within a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the effect of patient education, was to explore how patients with polyarthritis coped with their disease four months after they had participated in a patient education program compared to a control group receiving usual care. 26 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and unspecified polyarthritis were recruited, 15 in the intervention group and 11 to the control group. The intervention consisted of three group educational sessions followed by one individual educational session. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted 4 months after baseline. The informants were asked how they had been and how they had coped with the disease the last 4 months. The overall finding was that differences between the groups were related to an expression of greater confidence in coping with the disease among the participants in the intervention group. The changes found in the intervention group that differed the most from the control group were categorized into three themes:«the symptoms I experience is a natural part of the disease» which was achieved through validation of symptoms in the group and learning they are normal, “It`s us who are sick who knows how we feel” was an attitude due to improved emotional control by receiving support from other participants and program leaders and “actually I have decided to take more care of myself” based on new knowledge about how to live better with the disease. This qualitative study confirmed and broadened the findings from the randomized controlled trial that there was and effect of a combination of group and individual education program after four months.