There are more than 6000 heterogeneous rare diseases and little is known about shared experiences of affected individuals in everyday life and healthcare. Objective of this study was to explore perceived burden of patients with rare chronic diseases and identify commonalities and differences in the experiences of patients with four heterogeneous conditions. In four separate and diagnostically homogeneous focus groups, we asked patients about the perceived burden of living with their rare disease. The focus groups took place at a university medical centre in Germany. We identified five main themes: medical problems, psychological burden, problems with the healthcare system, constraints and interpersonal problems. Despite clinical heterogeneity of rare diseases, affected individuals have many common experiences. Some of these experiences may resemble the burden of living with a chronic disease. However, patients reported aspects, which seem to be specific for rare chronic diseases. Generic interventions targeting shared burdens among patients with different diseases could provide adequate treatment in light of finite healthcare resources. For more information click here.