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Factors of importance for reducing fatigue in persons with rheumatoid arthritis: a qualitative interview study

Journal article
Authors Caroline Feldthusen
Kaisa Mannerkorpi
Published in BMJ Open
Volume 9
Issue 5
ISSN 2044-6055
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Language en
Keywords physical-activity, resistance exercise, centered care, classification, consequences, intensity, strength, barriers, benefits, criteria, General & Internal Medicine
Subject categories Rheumatology and Autoimmunity


Objective Physical activity plays an important role in the treatment of persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and is the non-pharmacological intervention with the strongest evidence to reduce fatigue. However, physical activity can be challenging for persons who are fatigued. The aim of this study was to investigate factors of importance for reducing fatigue in persons with RA. Design This is a qualitative interview study based on semistructured, indepth individual interviews. Interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Participants Participants were 12 people with RA recruited from a previous randomised controlled trial of a person-centred treatment model focusing on health-enhancing physical activity and daily balance to lessen fatigue in persons with RA. Results The analysis resulted in one theme: an intellectual and embodied understanding that sustainable physical activity is important to handle fatigue. This included five categories describing barriers and facilitating factors for sustainable physical activity: mentally overcoming the fatigue in order to be active, making exercise easy, reaching for balance, receiving support to be physically active and dealing with RA disease to be physically active. Conclusion The participants in this study expressed that physical activity was important in handling fatigue, but also that this insight could only come from personal experience. The use of a person-centred ethic in physiotherapy coaching for patients with fatigue appears to promote sustainable physical activity behaviours by facilitating patients' resources to overcome barriers to physical activity.

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