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Sandra K. Plach, Patricia E. Stevens, Vicki A. Moss

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The purpose of this research report is to describe women’s experiences living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Twenty women diagnosed with RA participated in semistructured interviews that were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Findings indicated that how women with RA experience life in their physical bodies is fundamentally important. Corporeality, the name we chose for this phenomenon, is quite literally being one’s body. This experience of the reality of being in or being of a body or corpus was central, not only to participants’ perceptions of well-being but also to the impact rheumatoid arthritis was having on their lives and the actions they took to contend with the illness. The authors identified three themes that described what corporeality was for women with RA: relating to a noncompliant body, body out of synch, and private body made public. These results are discussed in light of other research about embodied experience in persons living with chronic illness.