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New findings can improve care of patients suffering from rheumatic diseases

08 July 2009 Expertsvar

Ongoing studies have shown that sleep patterns, emotional support and alcohol habits, among other factors, are important for a good health-related quality of life for patients suffering from rheumatic diseases. Knowledge of these findings can be used to improve the care of such patients.

Although different medical treatments have greatly improved the situation for patients with rheumatic diseases, much is still unknown regarding factors that predict a healthier outcome. The School of Health Sciences in Jönköping has, in collaboration with Spenshult Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (the only one of its kind in Sweden), several projects that highlight the patient’s perspective of rheumatic diseases. “One important finding in ongoing studies is a healthier outcome in subjects who feel rested after sleep, but emotional support, sleep patterns, smoking and alcohol habits also appear to be important components. Knowledge of health factors associated to the development of a good health-related quality of life could be of use in clinical practice and public health work,” says Professor Bengt Fridlund, School of Health Sciences.

From a patient perspective regarding the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, based on caring science and research carried out by a multi-professional team, new knowledge has been gained that adds to the understanding of the disease. Different conceptions based on qualitative research techniques regarding the cause can be linked to certain personal and biological factors. “These could give new clues to the origin of the disease and improve the type of health care provided. For example, it is fair to assume that a patient who associates his/her disorder with physical strain may be reluctant to accept a suggestion to improve their condition by physical training and exercise.”

The research results are being implemented in a problem-based learning programme aimed at patients with rheumatic diseases who have insufficient relief from pain and fatigue. This programme is under evaluation.

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