European Qualitative research project on Patient-preferred outcomes in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (EQPERA): Rationale, design and methods of a multinational, multicentre, multilingual, longitudinal qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction Including the patient perspective is important to achieve optimal outcomes in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Ample qualitative studies exist on patient outcomes in RA. A Belgian study recently unravelled what matters most to patients throughout the overwhelming and rapidly evolving early stage of RA. The present study, European Qualitative research project on Patient-preferred outcomes in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (EQPERA) was created to contribute to a more universal understanding of patient-preferred health and treatment outcomes by integrating the perspectives of patients with early RA from three European countries. Methods and analysis In EQPERA, a qualitative, explorative, longitudinal study will be implemented in The Netherlands and Sweden, parallel to the methods applied in the previously conducted Belgian study. In each country, a purposive sample of patients with early RA will be individually interviewed 3-6 months after start of the initial RA treatment and subsequently, the same participants will be invited to take part in a focus group 12-18 months after RA treatment initiation. Data collection and analysis will be independently conducted by the local research teams in their native language. A meta-analysis of the local findings will be performed to explore and describe similarities, differences and patterns across countries. Ethics and dissemination Ethics approval was granted by the responsible local ethics committees. EQPERA follows the recommendations of the Declaration of Helsinki. Two main papers are foreseen (apart from the data reporting on the local findings) for peer-reviewed publication.


  • Kristien Van Der Elst
  • Ann Bremander
  • An De Groef
  • Ingrid Larsson
  • Elke G.E. Mathijssen
  • Johanna E. Vriezekolk
  • Rene Westhovens
  • Yvonne J.L. Van Eijk-Hustings
External organisations
  • University Hospitals Leuven
  • Catholic University of Leuven
  • Halmstad University
  • Spenshult Research and Development Center
  • Sint Maartenskliniek
  • Maastricht University Medical Centre
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity


  • longitudinal study, patient preference, qualitative research, rheumatoid arthritis
Original languageEnglish
Article number023606
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch