Introduction: Patients form their own representations of their illness, which can be important determinants of their coping and influence outcome. Our aims were to (i) assess patient perceptions of osteomyelitis, septic arthritis and prosthetic joint infection, (ii) compare perceptions of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) with non-MRSA infection and (iii) investigate the emotional aspects of these infections.
Methods: A questionnaire was developed from the ‘Illness Perception Questionnaire’ of Weinman et al.with additional questions assessing emotional response. This was offered to all patients with osteomyelitis, septic arthritis and prosthetic joint infection attending the Liverpool Hospital Infectious Diseases Outpatient Clinic during a 3-month period.
Results: There were 91 respondents − 25 with MRSA infection, 14 with MRSA colonization and 52 without MRSA. Seventy-nine per cent of all respondents felt that their infection was very serious and 76% felt their infection had had major consequences on their life. On multivariate analysis MRSA was associated with a greater emotional effect; the consequences and emotional effects of infection were greater in younger people and prosthetic joint infection was associated with less sense of control or cure.
Conclusion: Osteomyelitis, septic arthritis and prosthetic joint infection have a significant effect on an individual. Ongoing support and education are important, particularly for the young, those with prosthetic joint infection and patients with MRSA.