2013 Volume 28 Pages 35-44
This study aimed to qualitatively examine psychological and behavioral reactions to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) from the appearance of initial symptoms to after definitive diagnosis. Between February 2011 and August 2011, subjects were recruited by introduction from one patient group and four medical institutions (general hospitals). Twenty patients (mean age: 56.5±10.8 years) provided written consent to participate in the study. We conducted semi-structured interviews with the patients, asking about thoughts, feelings, and conditions from the appearance of initial symptoms to after definitive diagnosis. In order to qualitatively examine patients' psychological and behavioral reactions, we conducted summarizing content analysis. At onset, patients experienced the appearance as well as disappearance of pain. Moreover, patients saw things optimistically. While they mentioned "I don't know what has happened," their only exploratory efforts were to "look up RA in books." At the time of their first visit to a medical institution, patients came to harbor worries and anxieties. They transitioned to consultation behavior, saying, "I'll visit a specialized medical institution." Furthermore, after definitive diagnosis, patients newly came to have emotions and thoughts such as mistrust or a sense of relief regarding doctors and medical professionals, and depression, worry, anxiety, or relief regarding illness.