RESEARCH – March 2007

Social coping of people with arthritis/rheumatism


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The proportion of elderly people is rocketing in society. As the share of people suffering from chronic rheumatic diseases in population increases in line with aging, the problems related to their treatment will become a serious challenge for the Estonian society in the years to come. The article discusses the indicators describing the condition of people suffering from chronic rheumatic diseases, the availability of necessary treatments, the complex problems of their private life, and the coping of patients with their disease and daily life. The survey is based on the materials of the poll Estonia 2003 and the survey Chronic Rheumatic Patients 2006.
In the poll, 35% of the respondents reported to have chronic illness, disability or malaise. An empirical analysis allows for concluding that people suffering  from a long-term rheumatic disease experience most serious problems. Only 29% of them are satisfied with their health. Almost every second one has been away from work for a month or even a longer period because of their illness during the past year. Their condition has considerably undermined their ability to work and study. Treatment is limited because of financial constraints, so that at times people cannot even afford indispensable medication, technical aids and physiotherapy. According to the respondents, availability of information about the nature of their disease, possibilities of using technical aids, effects of medication, services, benefits, healthy nutrition, physiotherapy, etc. is an important resource for social coping skills.