The Use of Focus Group Interview in the Evaluation of Patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis

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The purpose of this study was to develop some of the focus group discussion (FGD) potentialities in order to provide information on patients' understanding of the origin and management of their medical condition. Fifteen ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients (mean age = 32.6 yr and mean disease duration = 13.4 yr) were selected from the Rheumatic Disease Unit (RDU) out-patient clinic at Escola Paulista de Medicina, Sã;o Paulo, Brazil, to take part in this study. The FGD constituted two sessions, with eight patients in the first and seven in the second. The moderator raised specific questions about the patients' understanding of the pathology, the treatment and how the illness affected their quality of life. It was observed through the FGD that patients believed that their illness onset was due to some physical trauma. Clinicians should inquire about this tissue to be sure that their individual patients do not have this false belief. Also, it is necessary to improve the methods for early diagnosis and to develop further studies to determine and assess the parameters of disease activity. And finally, FGD may be of use in establishing a self-help group for individuals with chronic diseases, such as AS. In conclusion the FGD is an available technique that should be used more frequently in medicine to gather global qualitative data.



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