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Qual Health Res. 2008 May;18(5):658-69. doi: 10.1177/1049732308316348.

I have mastered the challenge of living with a chronic disease: life stories of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Vienna Medical University, Vienna, Austria.


Our aim with this study was to explore the narrative life story of individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. An open qualitative approach, namely narrative biographic methodology, was applied to include the life context of the participants and to deliberately exclude predefinitions of concepts. Ten people with rheumatoid arthritis who retired early because of the disease participated and were interviewed three times according to a narrative biographic interview style. The biographical data and the interview texts were analyzed both individually and in comparison to each other. Some participants regarded rheumatoid arthritis as a challenge for mastery in their lives, whereas others adapted to the disease and "made the best out of a bad situation." Especially in countries where the medical model predominates in health care, our findings can be used to broaden the current view that some health professionals have toward patients, and stress the importance of patients being self-responsible.

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