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Support needs for medication use and the suitability of eHealth technologies to address these needs: a focus group study of older patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Authors Mathijssen EGE, Vriezekolk JE, Eijsbouts AMM, van den Hoogen FHJ, van den Bemt BJF

Received 28 September 2017

Accepted for publication 10 January 2018

Published 7 March 2018 Volume 2018:12 Pages 349—358

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S152759

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen


Elke GE Mathijssen,1 Johanna E Vriezekolk,1 Agnes MM Eijsbouts,1 Frank HJ van den Hoogen,1,2 Bart JF van den Bemt3

1Department of Rheumatology, Sint Maartenskliniek, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; 2Department of Rheumatology, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; 3Department of Pharmacy, Sint Maartenskliniek, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Objective: The objectives of this study were to explore the needs of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) regarding support for medication use and to gain insight into their perspective on the suitability of eHealth technologies to address these needs.
Methods: Three focus groups were conducted with 28 patients with RA. Audio recordings made during the focus groups were transcribed verbatim. Two researchers independently performed an inductive, thematic analysis on the data (ie, the transcripts and field notes).
Results: The following three themes that described support needs of patients with RA for medication use were identified in the data: 1) informational support; 2) practical support; and 3) emotional support. Informational support reflected the provision of information and facts, including advice, suggestions, and feedback from health care providers. Practical support included the reinforcement of practical skills as well as the provision of medication aids and pharmacy services. Emotional support reflected a trusted patient–health care provider relationship, characterized by good communication. Although potential advantages of eHealth technologies to address the patients’ support needs were recognized, concerns over matters such as personal interaction with health care providers, privacy and data security, and the quality and reliability of online information were prevalent.
Conclusion: Patients with RA have informational, practical, and emotional support needs for medication use. Informational support seems to be most important. From the patients’ perspective, eHealth technologies may have the potential to address these needs. However, these technologies are regarded as a complement to, rather than a replacement of, current practices.

Keywords: qualitative research, rheumatology, information needs, practical needs, emotional needs

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