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A Q-methodology study of flare help-seeking behaviours and different experiences of daily life in rheumatoid arthritis

Hughes, Rodney; Richards, Pamela; Flurey, Caroline A; Morris, Marianne; Pollock, Jon; Hewlett, Sarah


Rodney Hughes

Pamela Richards

Marianne Morris

Jon Pollock
Associate Professor in Epidemiology


© 2014 Lin et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Background: Previous studies have not addressed rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients' help-seeking behaviours for RA flares, and only one small qualitative study has addressed how patients experience daily life on current treatment regimes. Thus, this study aims to identify clusters of opinion related to RA patients' experiences of daily life on current treatments, and their help-seeking behaviours for RA flares. Methods: Using Q-methodology (a methodology using qualitative and quantitative methods to sort people according to subjective experience), two separate studies were conducted with the same sample of RA patients (mean age 55, 73% female). Thirty participants sorted 39 statements about daily life (Q-study 1) and 29 participants separately sorted 23 statements about flare help-seeking (Q-study 2). Data were examined using Q-factor analysis. Results: Daily life with RA (Q-study 1): Three factors relating to the experience of living with RA were extracted and explained. Patients belonging to Factor A (mean age 62, 86% female) use effective self-management techniques to control the daily impact of RA. Those in Factor B (mean age 55, 75% male) struggle to self-manage and cope. Whilst patients in Factor C (mean age 42, 100% female) prioritise life responsibilities over their RA, reporting less impact. Flare help-seeking (Q-study 2): Two factors explaining the experience of flare help-seeking (unrelated to the factors from Q-study 1) were extracted and explained. Factor X (68.8% on biologics) reported seeking help quickly, believing the medical team is there to help. Factor Y (0% on biologics) delay help-seeking, concerned about wasting the rheumatologist's time, believing they should manage alone. All participants agreed they sought help due to intense pain and persistent, unmanageable symptoms. Conclusions: Patients with different characteristics appear to manage RA life in different ways and men may struggle more than women. Whilst all patients are prompted to seek help by persistent, unmanageable symptoms, some delay help-seeking. Further research is needed to quantify the severity of daily symptoms, the level of symptoms needed for patients to define themselves as in flare and to understand the support needs of RA men.


Hughes, R., Richards, P., Flurey, C. A., Morris, M., Pollock, J., & Hewlett, S. (2014). A Q-methodology study of flare help-seeking behaviours and different experiences of daily life in rheumatoid arthritis. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 15(1), 364.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 1, 2014
Journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Electronic ISSN 1471-2474
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 1
Pages 364
Keywords rheumatoid arthritis, RA, psychological adjustment, psychological adaptation, health care seeking behaviour, help-seeking behaviour, Q-methodolodgy, mixed-methods, qualitative, men, masculnity,
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2014 A Q-methodology study of flare help-seeking behaviours and different experiences of daily life in RA.pdf (712 Kb)

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