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Experience of fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis : a qualitative study

Dermer, A. (2015) Experience of fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis : a qualitative study.

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Abstract:Introduction: Fatigue is a symptom often experienced in rheumatoid arthritis. Cross-cultural studies from the US, UK and the Netherlands investigated the subjective experiences of fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and found notable similarities in the characteristics and consequences of fatigue among the different populations. Differences were found in the manners of self-management and communication about fatigue. In spite of these studies, little is known about the experience of fatigue in other countries. Therefore, the aim of this study is to gain further insight in the experience of fatigue by focusing on the characteristics, consequences, self-management strategies and ways of communication with health professionals and relatives in a German population. Method: Sixteen patients with rheumatoid arthritis, gathered via the Rheuma Liga in Gronau, Germany, were individually interviewed. All levels of fatigue were included in this study and explored with the BRAF – MDQ. Semi-structured interviews on the patient’s experience of fatigue were conducted and the responses were analyzed using a combined inductive and deductive approach, where in the answers of the patients were summarized and categorized via a coding scheme. Results: Fatigue is experienced multidimensionally, is unpredictable, and manifests in both a physical and mental state. Consequences have far reaching effects on different aspects of the individual’s life, including their choices of activities, spontaneity in life, roles, social interactions and emotions. Patients use different self-managing strategies simultaneously and with differing levels success. Most of the patients did not discuss their fatigue with health professionals or relatives. But when they did, they felt it was dismissed. Discussion: Results show that there are similarities in the experience of fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis with previous studies from the US, UK and the Netherlands. The differences discovered in the patient’s manner of self-management and communication suggest that differences in health systems in the countries have influence on the experience of fatigue. It shows the need for an increased support in a patient’s self-management and a well-developed clinical information system that provides enough information to the patient through well-trained health professionals. These results will help practitioners design tailored interventions and self-management guidance.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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