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Your whole life, your whole world, it changes': Partners' experiences of living with rheumatoid arthritis

Harcourt, Diana; Hewlett, Sarah



Objectives: Research suggests that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can have a negative psychosocial impact on partners, as well as patients. However, until now there has been very little in-depth qualitative research in this area. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of partners of people with RA. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a heterogeneous sample of eight partners of people with RA (six men, two women, age range 48-73 years). Transcripts were analysed thematically. Results: Five overarching themes emerged: psychological burden in partners was substantial, as they experienced frustration and distress at watching their partner suffer and tried to protect their spouse from emotional and physical distress. 'It's a restricted life': partners reported having to cut back on previously enjoyable shared activities and had difficulty making future plans. Adjusting lives: partners had to make considerable adjustments to many aspects of their lives, and had adopted practical and psychological ways to cope. 'It's a joint approach': many partners discussed adopting a joint approach to managing the RA. Met and unmet support needs varied considerably, and many partners felt that a joint approach to treatment taken by health professionals is needed, which involves and recognizes their role. Conclusions: Partners of people with RA are vital to the patients' disease management, but the data show that many carry a substantial psychosocial burden. Healthcare professionals should be aware of this, so that couples coping with RA can be better supported. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2010
Journal Musculoskeletal Care
Print ISSN 1478-2189
Electronic ISSN 1557-0681
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 1
Pages 46-54
APA6 Citation Hewlett, S., Harcourt, D., Matheson, L., Harcourt, D., & Hewlett, S. (2010). Your whole life, your whole world, it changes': Partners' experiences of living with rheumatoid arthritis. Musculoskeletal Care, 8(1), 46-54.
Keywords rheumatoid arthritis, body image
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