Self-management strategies used during flares of rheumatoid arthritis in an ethnically diverse population

Charlotte Kett, Julia Flint, Mark Openshaw, Karim Raza, Kanta Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives. Effective management of flares of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can improve symptoms and may delay disease progression. The practice of rheumatologists in managing a flare has been studied, but patients' experiences of, and responses to, disease flares remain poorly defined. This study aimed to address this issue.Methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 patients from an ethnically diverse population who had suffered a recent RA flare. Open questions were asked regarding patients' definitions of a flare, causal attribution, self-management strategies, their triggers to consult health professionals, and the information they had received about RA flares from health professionals. Transcripts were studied using the grounded theory approach to identify themes.Results. Flares were usually described as worsening joint pain and swelling. Over-use of joints was identified as the most common cause of a flare, and commonly used self-management strategies included rest, gentle exercise and warming the joints. There was some variation in causal attribution and self-management with ethnicity.Conclusions. This study identified a link between causal attribution of flares and the resultant self-management strategies. A perceived trigger of the flare in some patients formed a focus for their self-management strategies, whereas those who could not identify a cause aimed mainly to alleviate symptoms. A better understanding of patients' perspective in the context of disease flares will allow the development of educational programmes to facilitate more effective self-management of this important manifestation of disease. Copyright (c) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-214
JournalMusculoskeletal care
Issue number4
Early online date26 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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