“Striving for a Good Life” – The Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis as Experienced by Patients

Ulrika Bergsten*, 1, 2, Stefan Bergman2, Bengt Fridlund1, Barbro Arvidsson2, 3, 4
1 School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden
2 Research and Development Centre at Spenshult Hospital, Oskarström, Sweden
3 Faculty of Nursing Science, Gjövik University College, Gjövik, Norway
4 School of Social and Health Sciences, Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden

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© Bergsten et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Research and Development Centre, Spenshult Hospital, SE-313 92 Oskarström, Sweden; Tel: +46 35 263 5253; Fax: +46 35 263 5255; E-mail:



To generate a theoretical model how patients experience their management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in everyday life.


An explorative design with the grounded theory approach was used by interviewing 16 informants with RA.


The generated theoretical model emerged in a core category- Striving for a good life with two categories; making use of personal resources and grasping for support from others, which formed the base of managing RA. When relating these categories together, four dimensions emerged which characterised patients’ different ways of managing RA: mastering, relying, struggling and being resigned.


The management of RA incorporated the use of personal resources and the grasping for support from others. Both self-management strategies and patients’ need of support were highlighted as aspects that were of importance when managing RA. Patients’ experiences of their need of support to manage RA give extended knowledge that is of importance for nurses and other healthcare providers. The relationship between patients and healthcare providers is always the key to a good encounter. Interventions to increase self-management in RA have to incorporate this knowledge when trying to increase patients’ self-efficacy and with their experience of support.

Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis, patient perspective, grounded theory, chronic disease.