Male Veterans Coping with the Pendulum Swing of Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
A Qualitative Study
This study describes the physical, psychological and social context of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain from the male veterans. A qualitative, descriptive design was employed using a purposive sampling to ensure representation of male veterans. Interviews were conducted with 12 male veterans of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. Socio-demographic characteristics, clinical profiles and descriptors of rheumatoid pain experienced by male veterans’ since their diagnoses were gathered. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Grounded Theory analysis techniques were used to identify concepts related to living with RA Pain. Six concepts related to RA pain adaptation emerged. Three concepts were associated with movement (keep moving, consequences of not moving, staying physically active) and three were related to emotion (thinking positive thoughts, doing jobs, focusing on male identity). The “keep moving” concept explained coping with chronic RA pain through three activity types: physical, cognitive and socio-economic activities. These activities fluctuated in intensity depending upon the disease stage and RA symptoms. The forward and backward pendulum swing described the unpredictable course and pain coping strategy of the veterans. Further studies are recommended to determine the transferability of our findings to other populations and to confirm the impact of continuous motion as an effective pain management strategy for RA.