The self-care experiences of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Current evidence shows that self-care interventions improve health-related quality of life, reduce hospital admissions, and decrease dyspnea in individuals with COPD. However little is known about what are the activities that people with COPD perform and how they live their disease experiences
To explore self-care experiences of people affected by COPD.
A qualitative, descriptive design was adopted. Data were collected through focus groups on a convenience sample of outpatients with COPD in different disease stages. A qualitative content analysis was used to interpret the data.
Three main categories were identified: self-care activities for the health maintenance ; self-care activities for COPD management and coping with the disease . The smoke cessation and the annual flu vaccination were the most critical activities which the patients struggle with. Medications are considered important by patients but they often decide autonomously to reduce the doses or to stop taking them when the COPD symptoms decrease. Patients learn by themselves how to cope with the physical, psychological and social modification caused by the disease.
People with COPD experienced the disease in different ways and carried out limited self-care activities. Nurses should take into account the different experiences of people with COPD to plan targeted educational interventions in order to promote the appropriate management of the disease.