The experience of living with rheumatoid arthritis: a qualitative meta-synthesis

  • G. Parenti
  • S. Cipolletta


Background: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an invalidating chronic condition affecting about 0.5-1% of the population. It entails a progressive deterioration of joints which limits individuals’ ability to move and causes severe impairment in one’s life. This condition is also associated with depression, anxiety and decreased quality of life eventually leading to increased morbidity and mortality. While the qualitative body of literature on the experience of living with the disease is quite broad, very few studies have attempted to bring the findings together providing a generalised model of understanding. This qualitative meta-synthesis aims at retrieving all the qualitative studies available and at developing an upper-ordinate understanding of RA, including not only a summary of the literature but mainly a third-order interpretation of the findings. Methods: 27 articles were retrieved of which 13 were excluded not matching the inclusion criteria and 14 were considered for the meta-synthesis. Findings: Two themes were retrieved from the studies included: “RA impact on life domains” and “confronting the illness”. The former theme includes thirteen codes which represent the aspects of an individual’s life that have been affected by the disease while the latter theme consists of two coping styles that have emerged despite it not being the core focus of the selected papers. Discussion: RA invalidates patients’ lives in several ways. The importance of this meta-study relies on the fact that it provides a state-of-the-art understanding of the disease which can be useful to develop tailored interventions supporting patients dealing with the disease.
Poster presentations