Sanderson, T., Morris, M., Calnan, M., Richards, P. and Hewlett, S.
‘It’s this whole picture, this well-being’: patients’
understanding of ‘feeling well’ with rheumatoid arthritis.
Chronic Illness, 6 (3).
Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1742395310377672
Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore the meaning of ‘feeling well’ for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 23 RA patients, purposively sampled for medication type,
disease duration, disease activity, age and gender. Data were analysed using Framework, emphasizing participants’
Results: Well-being was viewed as a broad concept, with ‘feeling well’ being the result of an on-going process to actively engage with a changing body, self and life. Four dimensions emerged: ‘Living in the body’, ‘Being in the
mind’, ‘Adapting to illness’ and ‘Being in the world’. The physical impact of RA underpinned the global perception
of well-being and was clearly described as linking to the experience of psychological well-being. Physical and
psychological wellness was often affected by the individual’s adaptation to RA and personal context (e.g. home environment, broader social attitudes).
Discussion: Well-being is a multidimensional concept that is meaningful to RA patients regardless of medication
type and disease severity. Patients commonly illustrated a process of actively engaging in cognitive and behavioural
adjustments to move towards wellness. Clinical practice and research must take account of the complexity of wellbeing
in long-term conditions, in order to fulfil patients’ expectations.
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