Coping with arthritis is experienced as a dynamic balancing process. A qualitative study

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the process of coping in people living with chronic inflammatory arthritis. Semi-structured individual face-to-face interviews with 26 persons having rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or unspecified polyarthritis were performed. The informants were asked how they experienced to live with arthritis and how they coped with challenges due to the arthritis. The main finding was that the informants experienced the process of coping with arthritis as a dynamic, iterative, balancing process. They balanced between different states, entitled “go on as usual”, “listen to the body”, “adjustments” and “attitude towards life”. The informants preferred to be in a “go on as usual” state as this was seen as normal life. However, disease fluctuations with pain, fatigue and stiffness disturbed the balance and made the informants “listen to the body”, a state where they became aware of how the disease affected them, followed by the “adjustment” state. Adjustments were composed of different efforts to ease the arthritis influence and for regaining balance. The “attitude towards life” influenced the overall process of coping. A redefined view of what the informants considered to be normal life thus happened through longer periods of imbalance. The process of coping with arthritis was found to be a dynamic, iterative, balancing process where patients redefined what they considered as normal life through the course of the disease.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the informants who participated in this study.

Funding

This work was supported by a research grant from The Research Council of Norway.

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Correspondence to Kjersti Grønning.

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Grønning, K., Lomundal, B., Koksvik, H.S. et al. Coping with arthritis is experienced as a dynamic balancing process. A qualitative study. Clin Rheumatol 30, 1425 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10067-011-1836-9

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Keywords

  • Arthritis
  • Coping
  • Patient perspective
  • Qualitative study
  • Self management