Patient goals in rheumatoid arthritis care: A systematic review and qualitative synthesis

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During the clinical encounter, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient goals for care often go unexplored. The aim of the present systematic review was to identify needs, goals and expectations of RA patients in order better to guide systematic elicitation of patient goals in clinical encounters.


An academic librarian searched MEDLINE, PsychINFO and the Cochrane Library using a specialized algorithm developed to identify articles about patient goals for RA care. Investigators screened search results according to prespecified inclusion criteria and then reviewed included articles and synthesized the evidence qualitatively, utilizing an inductive approach.


A total of 909 titles were retrieved in the literature search, of which 871 were excluded after a title/abstract screen. Of the remaining 38, 22 papers were included in the final review. Investigators identified four major themes in the literature: (a) the bodily experience of RA; (b) achieving normalcy and maintaining wellness; (c) social connectedness and support; and (d) interpersonal and healthcare system interactions.


Patients' goals when receiving care for RA are multidimensional and span several facets of everyday life. Goals for RA care should be collaboratively developed between patients and providers, with particular attention to the patient's life context and priorities.

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