Control perceptions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: the impact of the medical consultation
Objective. To identify factors that patients perceive as influencing control in living with the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Method. A sample of 40 patients with RA were recruited randomly from an out-patient population. The participants of the sample were interviewed in depth by one researcher to identify perceptions of control. They also completed two self-administered questionnaires, the Health Assessment Questionnaire and the Rheumatology Attitude Index. Results. Four major categories were identified that positively influenced perceptions of control in patients living with the consequences of RA. These included: (i) the reduction of physical symptoms; (ii) social support matching perceived need; (iii) the provision of information; and (iv) the medical consultation. Components of the consultation included patient involvement, provision of information, feedback and reassurance, empathy and access to an expert. Conclusion. The categories identified can be influenced by health-care professionals in the management of the patient, and if the medical consultation is utilized to its full potential it can play a major role in enabling patients with RA to manage the daily symptoms of their condition.