Date: Monday, November 8, 2021
Session Type: Poster Session C
Session Time: 8:30AM-10:30AM
Background/Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to manage their self-care, such as being physically active, maintaining emotional wellbeing, and accessing necessary medications. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore how the pandemic influenced self-care from the perspectives of individuals living with RA.
Methods: The study was jointed designed and conducted with patient partners living with RA. Between March and October 2020, we conducted one-to-one semi-structured interviews (30-60 mins) with participants with RA. These participants were purposively sampled from two ongoing randomized controlled trials (RCT) testing a web-based self-care intervention. To be eligible for either RCT, participants must have had: 1) a physician confirmed diagnosis of RA; 2) no joint surgery in the past 6 months; 3) no history of acute injury to any joints in the past six months; 4) an email address and daily access to a computer or mobile device. In the present qualitative study, we aimed for maximum variation in age, sex, and education among participants. An inductive thematic analysis approach was used. Preliminary findings were shared during consultations with 5 local patient partners and 13 patient partners living with RA in a different country to explore transferability of findings.
Results: Twenty-six of 33 eligible participants (aged 27-73; 23 females) agreed to be interviewed. Eighteen (69%) held a university degree or trade certificate. We identified 3 main themes: 1) Adapting to maintain self-care described how participants took measures to continue self-care activities while preventing virus transmissions. While spending more time at home, some participants reported improved self-care; 2) Managing emotions describes resilience-building strategies such as keeping perspective, positive reframing, and avoiding negative thoughts. Participants described both letting go and maintaining a sense of control to accommodate difficulties and emotional responses; 3) Changing communication with health professionals outlined positive experiences of remote consultations with health professionals, particularly if good relationships had been established pre-pandemic. Consultations with patient partners in a different country indicated experiences typically resonated across these different geographical, political and health service contexts that experienced a total or partial lockdown during the pandemic.
Conclusion: Findings describe the adaptations that adults with RA used to maintain their self-care and overall wellbeing. Insights gained may serve to inform researchers and clinicians in supporting adaptation and resilience among persons with arthritis more broadly during the pandemic and beyond. Findings also reveal opportunities to further examine remote consultations to optimize patient engagement and care.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Leese J, Backman C, Ma J, Koehn C, Hoens A, English K, Davidson E, McQuitty S, Gavin J, Adams J, Thierren S, Li L. Experiences of Self-Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Qualitative Study [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2021; 73 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/experiences-of-self-care-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-among-individuals-with-rheumatoid-arthritis-a-qualitative-study/. Accessed January 27, 2022.
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ACR Meeting Abstracts - https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/experiences-of-self-care-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-among-individuals-with-rheumatoid-arthritis-a-qualitative-study/