A qualitative study exploring the general population’s perception of rheumatoid arthritis after being informed about disease adaptation

H Cowen-McTaggart, A O'Cathain, A Tsuchiya, J Brazier


Purpose: This study aimed to gain an understanding of what factors induce individuals to alter their opinions about a health condition after being informed about disease adaptation and being given time to reflect and deliberate on this information. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) states are used as an illustration.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 members of the general population. They completed two time trade-off exercises for three RA states and underwent an adaptation exercise (AE) which consisted of listening to recordings of patients discussing how they adapted to RA. Also included was a structured discussion to encourage the participant to reflect on how the patients have adapted. Participants were shown their own health state values, as well as patient values.
Findings: After being informed about disease adaptation and reflecting on the information, participants were more likely to consider adaptation and alter their opinions of RA if they were able to empathize with the patients in the AE. This enabled individuals to feel that they could cope by reflecting on their experience of RA in family and friends, by drawing on others for support if they had RA, and by having a positive attitude towards life.
Conclusions: The results demonstrate that there is a range of reasons for which people change their perceptions about RA; this requires further exploration.