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Abstract

One hundred eighty-nine ambulatory arthritis patients were interviewed to assess needs for information about community resource services. Participants were asked how frequently they needed 66 specific information items. Three categories of resource needs in arthritis care were identified: general information, personal care and medical services, and assistive devices and equipment. In the first category, results indicated that the greater the impairment in functional ability, the greater the need for general information about arthritis. When functional ability was held constant, younger patients with lower family income displayed a greater need for arthritis resource information. Lower functional ability and family income were associated with a greater need for personal care and medical service information. Lower functional ability contributed the most to the need for information about assistive devices and equipment. We suggest that, as an essential component of the long-term care of patients with rheumatic diseases, individuals who provide educational counseling should clearly understand the community resource needs of patients, and should be able to match articulated needs with the existing services. Health professionals should be aware that certain patient characteristics (specifically, family income, functional ability, and age) are related to a need for this type of information. The large percentage of patients who could not name their rheumatic disease diagnosis (65%) presents a major concern and challenge to patient educators.