Despite greater knowledge of the diagnosis and treatment of undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD), little research on relevant psychological aspects had been conducted. The psychological influence of UCTD on patient health and well-being was assessed qualitatively by the researchers for a cross-sectional study. They found 20 adult patients with UCTD who were registered in the tertiary care hospital’s UCTD and Overlap Registry. A 30-minute semistructured telephone interview was conducted by a qualified clinical social worker. The standardized questionnaire on UCTD included 14 open-ended items. The qualitative data was analyzed and themes were identified using grounded theory by a team of physicians, research coordinators, and a social worker.
All 14/20 research participants (100% female; mean age, 53.6+13.2 [range, 27–74 years]) had at least an associate’s/degree, bachelor with 9 (64%) being White. The sickness lasted an average of 14.5+13.5 years (range: 0.5–44 years). 9 research participants (64%) received psychotherapy or mindfulness training. There were ten distinct psychosocial themes and categories that developed, including the need for professional assistance as well as peer and family support to raise awareness, minimize isolation, and boost self-efficacy.
Emerging themes from semistructured interviews with UCTD women at a large academic center point to the need for psychological treatments (e.g., patient support groups, instructional materials, peer counselors) to assist patients with UCTD in managing and coping with their condition. Future research on the psychological impact of UCTD diagnosis on varied cohorts was required.