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Palliat Med. 2004 Oct;18(7):619-25.

Living with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): perceptions of patients and their carers. An interpretative phenomenological analysis.

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The Honiton Group Practice, Honiton, Devon, UK.



A study designed to explore the experiences of patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and their carers, particularly with regard to ongoing and palliative care needs.


The participants were nine men and one woman with severe COPD and the carers of eight of the men, in East Devon, UK. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken, transcribed and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).


The emergent themes were of losses, adaptation, relationships with health professionals and effect on carer. Losses reflected the loss of personal liberty and dignity and of previous expectations of the future. Adaptation included strategies to cope with the effects of the disease. Relationships related to both positive and negative aspects of contact with health professionals. There was appreciation for continuity of care and reassurance. The effect on the carer was evident particularly as they had to take on multiple roles. They also experienced some of the same losses as the patient and appeared enmeshed with the illness.


This study confirmed the inexorable decline in activities of daily life and social isolation for patients with severe COPD. Adaptive strategies were common and some positive aspects were identified. Support from the primary health care team was appreciated. The strain on carers was very apparent. The concept of a more structured sharing of information and a surveillance role mediated by health care professionals known to the patient and carer would be a pragmatic approach to improving care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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