Feelings and emotions perceived among patients with rheumatic disease

  • Maria do Céu
  • Ana Sofia Nabais
  • Abílio Oliveira


Rheumatic disease, like any other chronic disease, can be perceived as a learning challenge for the patient. The way the patient reacts to the disease varies, among other factors, with their emotional condition. Hope has different meanings and tends to fade with the aggravation of health conditions when it becomes evident the difficulty in easing the pain and in the impossibility of healing.  

This study aims to analyse and understand rheumatic patients' perceptions of their disease. The present study is an exploratory one, based on a qualitative approach. Aa a method to collect data we developed a focus group. The Focus Group provides the investigator an in-depth knowledge of the facts, as it allows the promotion for debate between the participants and the interaction of the group, which endorses the expression of ideas, opinions, thoughts and feelings that individually would be complicated to expose (Krueger & Carey, 2010; Morgan, 2019). The treatment and analyses of the data were carried out through the qualitative analyses of content based on Thematic Analyses.

After the analyses of the Focus group interview, the following thematic areas emerged: Hope as a strength on the management of the disease; Hope as a daily motivation; Ability to adapt and the acceptance of the pain; Believing in the future.

The participants revealed that the rheumatic diseases are devastating for their life, not only regarding the impact on a physical level but also due to the implications in a phycological, emotional, professional, family and social level that raise numerous restrictions, which leads them into having feelings such as social isolation, sadness and discouragement. Although the pain resulting from the disease is the source of big discomfort and suffering, the participants considered that it is advisable to learn to live with these changes and they emphasise the acceptance of the pain as a key element of their health condition.

They emphasize that the feelings lived are various, conforming that these alternate between positive and hopeful feelings, uplifting, motivation and determination and negative feelings associated with sadness. They consider hope as an interior force that helps them to overcome the difficulties and face the discomfort associated to pain (Sá & Oliveira, 2012; 2013; Sá, 2016) and a key and determinant segment in pain management. Positive feeling as motivation and determination are promotors of hope.

Despite the changes that the disease has caused in their lives, and in daily life, despite the persistent pain, doubts, uncertainties and fears that worry them, these patients do not want to be a burden on anyone, they reveal hope and confidence in the future, trying to maintain autonomy, thinking that they are able to cope with their health problems. The present study can be a contribution for nurses to understand how patients live with rheumatic disease and how hope is important to face the disease.